So, here we are… week eight. The last fight of the preliminary round.

Last week, we saw Rachael Ostovich-Berdon solidify her spot with a win over Melinda Fabian. This week we have No. 9 Christina Marks against No. 8 Emily Whitmire.

Before we get into that, though, let’s get the drama out of the way. Since her fight, Lauren Murphy was unhappy on Team Alvarez. I just have to say, the only person on Team Alvarez that had a problem with Eddie Alvarez was Lauren. All the rest of us loved him and his team as coaches.

The thing is, though, I do care for Lauren and wanted her to be happy. When she went around talking to the people on our team about going to the other side, we all said the same thing: do what is best for yourself. Lauren had made the decision that she would never be happy with our team. Though not intentional, it really brought a black cloud over the team. Lauren has a strong presence. If she is happy, we all feel it. If she is unhappy, it radiates to everyone around her as well. It sucked having her leave, since she was a good training partner for all of us. Especially going into the next round, where teammates were fighting each other and we had limited people *cough* me and Sijara “Sarj” Eubanks *cough*. But hey, it is what it is and we made it work.

Next up, the coaches challenge! Everyone was anxious to see what the coaches challenge was going to be. It didn’t matter what it was, though, because we knew Eddie would come through and win (like in their fight in December — full faith in him). They loaded us up in the van, and lo and behold, we pulled up to a swim complex. The coaches had to swim an 800-meter swim (basically 16 lengths). If you’re a swimmer, that’s not so bad. If you don’t swim long distances a lot, drowning in the middle of the pool would be tempting just so it would end.

They got on the diving blocks and with the distinct pop of the starter pistol the race was on. Justin Gaethje got the early lead, but Eddie was right there neck and neck with him. A couple of pool lengths into it, there was a shift in momentum. Eddie kept up his pace and Justin started to slow down. Little by little, the lead became more and more pronounced. Eddie was getting tired too, and what they didn’t show was Melinda and Barb Honchak jumping in and finishing the last couple of lengths with him. High fives, good games, awkward face pats, and ungraceful lap dances all around. You know, the DeAnna way of celebration.

On to the fight!

Christina is a badass. I really enjoyed getting to know her, and she’s actually the first person I visited a week after getting out of the house. She has a Muay Thai background, and you can tell. She has fierce stand-up and is a super athlete. I mean, look at her! I’d kill for that physique. OK, OK, I’d kill for tacos and bacon. That’s why my body looks the way it does and hers looks the way it does. I’m OK with that.

Emily is a unique person, which is a compliment. Unique is a good thing. She had a rough upbringing and has been through a lot. She is a fighter, through and through. I actually saw her fight for the first time on a Tuff-N-Uff card in Mesquite, Nev., that one of my teammates was fighting on. She is young and scrappy and intense. She definitely has a fighter’s spirit.

You could tell something crazy was going to happen in this fight, because of the intensity they brought to the faceoff.

Fight day was hard to watch. I’m glad Emily could fight through her injury, though. It’s funny, no one on our team knew she was injured until right before the fight. They did a good job of keeping it under wraps. She came out with a fury, though, and she did what she had to do to win. She knew standing toe-to-toe with Christina was a terrible idea. I got really excited when it looked like she got out, but when Emily sunk that armbar in, my heart sunk down with it.

For the next round of fights, first up is Roxy Modafferi and Emily. Then a familiar face, me, and Sarj! We were the only inter-team match-up for Team Alvarez and, of course, we were roommates and friends. I know it seemed savage and that I blew that burp right in her face, but it was to the side. I would normally have done my awkward face pat, but out of respect to my buddy and her girl at home, I kept my hand to myself this time.

Tune in next week to see my awkward mug and what happens!

About The Author

DeAnna Bennett
TUF 26 Blogger

DeAnna Bennett is a mixed martial artist competing on the 26th season of The Ultimate Fighter. The show will crown the UFC’s inaugural flyweight champion. DeAnna is a former Invicta FC title challenger who trains out Four7 Training Center in Provo, Utah.

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