The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Season 30 continued on Tuesday evening with a show headlined by the second heavyweight fight of the season between Mohammed Usman and Mitchell Sipe. As Sipe (5-3) will frequently remind the viewers, the two men share a history with one another, having been originally matched up on the regional circuit, and they will get to sort out their unfinished business in the final quarter of tonight’s episode.
TUF 30 Episode 3 Recap
The episode begins with Team Pena’s Chantel Coates having a one-on-one with Usman. Coates dealt with her fair share of adversity prior to coming on the show, such as a bout with COVID-19 and a miscarriage. Usman told his teammate to not get so down on herself and to maintain focus but related to Coates through his own trials and tribulations. Usman then began to open up about his own son, Nash, who passed away at the age of two after drowning.
“He’s the main reason that I fight,” Usman said. “When I first had him I just would look him in the eyes and act like, ‘your dad is not a normal person. I’m going to show you that your dad is gifted and he’s blessed.’ [Burying him] was the toughest thing I had to do in my life.”
Usman himself is no stranger to the fight game, being the older brother of TUF 21 winner and current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Like Kamaru, Mohammed was born in Auchi, Nigeria and shares his brother’s work ethic as well as his family story. However, Usman is also looking to step out of his brother’s shadow, something he was well on his way to doing before TUF 30. Usman competed in the last year’s Professional Fighters League season in the heavyweight division and is a four-fight veteran of Titan Fighting Championships, having won two of the four fights by knockout.
Usman spoke of his first athletic love being football, finishing out his NCAA career at the University of Arizona. He started fighting after noticing his brother’s success shortly after his professional football aspirations began to dwindle. Now, Usman is looking to honor his son, step out of his famous brother’s shadow, and put his name on the map just as Kamaru once did.
In order to accomplish his goals, Usman will need to get through a familiar foe in Sipe. Sipe told the camera he believes Usman ducked him on the regional scene and is seeking to take back a win he believes was taken from him. Sipe’s head coach, Amanda Nunes, then spoke about how much Sipe wanted the fight as well as his two strengths: boxing and wrestling.
“Mohammed is just not cut from the same cloth,” Sipe said. “I turn my fights into a dog fight. He’s no dog, and I’m pretty hungry.”
Back in the house, Sipe tells the viewers a little more about himself. He spoke of his difficult upbringing, referencing his Native American heritage before speaking of the conflict between his parents. His mother ran with a bad crowd, and it wasn’t until his father won full custody that he was able to mould him into the man he is today. Sipe admitted his MMA career has had its ups and downs but is aware of his potential in the sport and willing to “grind his ass off” in order to meet his own goals.
Midway through the episode, it’s revealed that Sipe’s trash talk is beginning to noticeably affect Usman. Usman’s head coach, UFC women’s bantamweight champion Julianna Pena believes Usman will have ample opportunity to split Sipe’s guard, imploring her fighter to “throw laser beams down the middle.” Usman revealed his plan is to meet Sipe in the middle of the cage, ready to go to hell and back. Despite Usman’s insistence on his game plan, the two fighters kept jawing at each other in the house even while Sipe was getting a haircut.
Dana White then appears on screen to provide some commentary during the weigh-ins. He talked about Usman having some big shoes to fill as well as a ton of pressure on him. The trash talk between the two opponents continued all the way up to the staredown, with Usman telling Sipe he’s about to “teach him some respect.”
“We’ll find out tomorrow,” Forrest Griffin said, who faced off the two fighters.
Fight fans are then treated to a trip down memory lane when TUF 8 legend Junie Browning jumped the cage to go after Efrain Escudero after Escudero defeated Shane Nelson. Escudero would get the last laugh, however, submitting Browning in the second round of their semi-final fight before going on to win the show.
Good times. Simpler times.
Both fighters take some big cuts early, but it isn’t until almost a minute into the first round that Sipe is able to land on Usman coming in. From there, Usman began to settle into the flow of the fight, finding a consistent home for his jab. Sipe continued to showboat, however, possibly encouraged by the fact that he’s begun to get a feel for Usman’s power. However, Usman remained composed throughout most of the first round, that is until getting caught with a grazing right hand that dropped him. Sipe rushed in to deliver hammer fists, but Usman eventually regained his faculties and worked his way back up. Usman would then go on to body Sipe to the ground, connecting on a diving punch before landing some more big shots on Sipe’s way back to his feet. Usman would go on to lead the dance through an uneventful final minute, resulting in a close first round that Sipe probably edged due to the knockdown.
In between rounds, Pena tells Usman that he’s felt Sipe’s biggest shot already and is still in the thick of it. Sipe’s corner tells him to fight his fight. This time, it is Sipe showcasing his jab in the second round before Usman came through with a big uppercut at about the two-minute mark. Unphased, Sipe urges his opponent on, tapping his chin in a showboat-like manner.
“This dude’s fucking nuts,” White said cageside.
Despite Sipe’s antics, Usman continued to show himself to be the more technical striker of the two throughout the remainder of the round. He eventually began to find a home for his right hand, eliciting a reaction from his opponent. Usman’s left hand continued to land as well, so much so it nearly shut Sipe’s left eye before the round came to a close.
“I’m just getting started,” Sipe yelled between rounds.
Sure enough, referee Mark Smith informed the fighters there would be a third round with Sipe likely taking the first and Usman the second.
The third and final round opens with Sipe heeding his corner’s advice and firing off two leg kicks to open the frame, followed by a switch kick. Nunes told Sipe to “watch the overhand, it’s the only thing he has.” Through the first minutes, Sipe is doing a better job at keeping Usman on the end of his shots, though Usman continued to advance on his opponent, firing off the jab he had so much success within the prior round. All of a sudden, Sipe’s volume began to slow, paving the way for Usman to narrow the gap in the numbers. Usman would go on to land a handful of jabs on the compromised eye of Sipe, and the two rivals would stand and trade for the last minute of the round with Usman connecting on one of the hardest punches of the fight, an overhand right, with 17 seconds to go.
As the horn sounds, Usman is the first of the two to raise his hands in victory. He would ultimately be the man to get his hand raised, winning a 29-28 unanimous decision.
Mohammed Usman defeats Mitchell Sipe via Unanimous Decision.
Usman is still fired up after the victory as the fans are treated to White and the coaches’ recap. White agreed with the fight being split at one round apiece to trigger a sudden death third but admitted the fight ultimately came down to who wanted a spot in the semifinal more.
“It was an exciting fight to say the least,” Pena said. “I like to call him main-event Mohammed because he definitely put on a show.”
After the fight, Sipe continues to jaw at Usman, who breaks down upon getting backstage. He thanked his teammates and coaches for having his back, mentioning he had been dreaming of this moment his whole life. Sipe, meanwhile conferences with his team backstage, who admitted he should have thrown with more volume. Nunes told Sipe he plays with his food too much.
Eventually, Nunes would choose next week’s women’s flyweight fight, lining up Brogan Walker to take on Coates. Coates told the camera she believes her speed will be the difference-maker, while Walker believes there are “10” different ways she can beat Coates. Whether or not Walker is able to get the job done in one of those 10 ways is a question fans will get an answer to in one week.