The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) rolled along with the fourth episode of Season 30 on Tuesday evening, featuring a fight between women’s flyweights Brogan Walker and Chantel Coates scheduled to air towards the conclusion of the broadcast. However, as fans would come to see, Tuesday’s episode served as a fair reminder to expect the unexpected when it comes to TUF.
TUF 30 Episode 4 Recap
The episode opens with Walker and Coates preparing for their fight alongside their respective teams at the UFC Apex. It becomes quickly known that Walker is dealing with an apparent knee injury. Head Coach Amanda Nunes at first downplayed the injury, but Walker said she felt a lot of pressure around the knee as the pain began to worsen, though she claims she didn’t hear it “pop,” and that she’ll be approaching recovery one day at a time with a fight with Coates still technically on the docket.
Meanwhile, viewers received some more information about the weight cut standing before Coates ahead of the Walker fight. Head Coach Julianna Pena weighed Coates at the TUF House to clarify exactly how much weight she would need to cut to make the 125-pound limit, remarking that she needs to be within 20 pounds to have a reasonable shot. The scale reads, “154.5,” meaning Coates would need to lose almost 30 pounds to make weight. This bit of news concerns Pena and her staff, mentioning that safety is always her No. 1 priority while alluding to the fact that Coates likely wouldn’t be able to make the weight safely. When asked by Pena’s assistant coach Rick Little what her largest cut has been, Coates responds “10-pounds” casting doubt as to whether this fight can go along as planned. All of a sudden alternates stepping in to fight for both teams is looking like an increased possibility.
The next day, Walker meets with the doctor, who broke down the different grades of MCL tears and strains with her, believing her to have a Grade-1 MCL tear, which falls on the lowest end of the spectrum. Walker immediately winced at the news, but the doctor reassured her that it is a very mild injury. The news bodes well for Walker’s fighting future, but as far as her fight with Coates is concerned, her status remains uncertain to this point in the episode.
Back at the Apex, Team Pena re-weighed Coates, who came in only slightly lighter than she had the day prior. Coates told the cameras she believes she let everyone down as the coaches around Pena tell her, “this isn’t going to happen.” Pena admits that while the weight cut might not be impossible, it would be “extremely difficult.”
“Mathematically, you’re going to have to burn approximately 12-13,000 calories per day on top of what you’re already doing,” Assistant Coach Wayne Gregory said. “For that reason alone, we have to pull out. This is the end of the road. It’s unfortunate. I personally like you. We all like you, but your safety comes first.”
Coates seemed immediately accepting of her team’s decision, whether she had already accepted her likely fate on the show or not. Pena called it, “an unfortunate situation,” mentioning that it broke her heart to deliver the news, even telling her athlete she could relate to her through her own weight miss at 125 pounds. Coates ultimately blamed her walking weight on her hormones, but nevertheless, the native Kansan is officially off the show, meaning there will be a change to this week’s fight from at least one side.
The alternate for Team Pena is soon revealed to be 4-1 Laura Gallardo, an up-and-coming west coast prospect who loves to lean on her wrestling base. Upon arriving at the Apex, Gallardo immediately recognizes Helen Peralta, who she won a split decision in her last professional fight at CFFC 96. Gallardo, 32, quickly fits into the team’s culture and is later given a tour of the house by Juliana Miller. On the other side, Walker is officially forced out of the fight with her knee needing a little more time to heal. However, unlike Team Pena, Team Nunes would not need to find an alternate outside the house since Walker is going to stick around the show. In fact, Nunes is even given permission to pick the fight with Walker’s injury being unbeknownst to the other team. As a result, it is revealed that an eager Kathryn Paprocki (3-2) will step up to take the place of Walker against Gallardo, who would indeed be asked to fight on less than four days’ notice. Paprocki, 29, mentioned how she didn’t mind the short-notice opportunity herself, feeling she would have an edge with her opponent coming off the couch while she had been training at the Apex and living in the TUF house for several weeks to this point.
The audience now gets to hear more about Gallardo’s personal life. Always a natural-born athlete, Gallardo mentions she discovered jiu-jitsu during her senior year of high school and had been hooked ever since. She trains at Dan Henderson’s Athletic Fitness Center in Temecula, Calif. under head coach and former champion of TUF Season 2, Joe Stevenson. Pena calls her new trainee’s wrestling “the cream of the crop” and stresses how excited she is to have her on the team.
The viewers then get to learn a little more about Paprocki ahead of the short-notice fight, with the Team Nunes member shedding some light on her stuttering problem. She told the cameras she is comfortable talking about it and wants young kids with the same problem to see her as a role model and someone who can make something of themselves despite having a speech impediment. Paprocki also spoke about having previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series in another short-notice opportunity, which resulted in a decision loss to Maria Silva last fall. Maintaining physical conditioning comes easily to Paprocki, who owns a gym with her husband, a former pro fighter himself, in her home state of Colorado. Paprocki also put over Nunes, her coach, for her overwhelming positivity and belief in her.
The weigh-ins are soon to follow for both fighters, and despite the circumstances, both make the 125-pound limit with relative ease. Unlike last week, there is no drama and despite the rocky road leading up to this week’s fight for both teams, there is not much else to report with both fighters appearing ready to roll.
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Gallardo, the wrestler by nature, immediately looked to grapple Paprocki, pushing her opponent against the fence just seconds into the fight. Eventually, Gallardo is able to get the early takedown and move into side control. Paprocki is able to scramble back to the fence, however, using the cage to help her return to her feet, albeit with Gallardo sticking to her like glue. Finally, Paprocki is able to break Gallardo’s grip and has begun to walk Gallardo down on the feet. Gallardo does, however, manage to answer the flurry of punches with a few of her own while doing well to keep out of Paprocki’s range. Paprocki then lands the most meaningful strike of the round, a standing elbow, prompting Gallardo to once again initiate a level change. A third takedown attempt from Gallardo is then stuffed, and from there, the fight would remain on the feet for another minute before Gallardo notches a third takedown with just under 10 seconds left.
The standup battle was close enough that Gallardo may have edged the round with her takedowns, but it remains to be seen if she’ll be able to maintain that pace having taken the fight on less than four days’ notice.
The second round begins with Paprocki attempting to walk Gallardo down again, but the shorter Gallardo continues to keep out of range. In fact, it would be Gallardo who would work her way back inside with a handful of clinch strikes before once again taking the fight to the mat. She is able to deal with Paprocki’s active work from the bottom, eventually moving into side control while attempting to isolate an arm. Pena encouraged her fighter to stay heavy on top, something she struggled to do in the first round, though she has now notched more top control time in the second round than she had the entire opening frame. As Paprocki made her way toward the fence, Gallardo made her pay with some ground and pound, even landing a big knee to the body at one point from side control. A dominant round for Gallardo, and whether this fight sees a third round will depend on how the judges saw the first.
As the fighters return to their feet, both are displaying contrasting body language as a hematoma on Paprocki’s forehead is now visible to the viewer.
“That’s a fucking hematoma,” Dana White exclaimed from cage side.
It is learned that a third-round won’t be necessary, however, as Gallardo has successfully come off the street to earn a spot in The Ultimate Fighter semifinals. What a story.
Laura Gallardo defeats Kathryn Paprocki via Majority Decision
After the fight, White called Gallardo a “little badass,” remarking that he liked her a lot. Gallardo said she came here to win and is ready for the next one. Pena said Gallardo exceeded her own expectations and definitely deserved to be here.
In the Team Nunes locker room, a dejected Paprocki is distraught with herself for having been defeated by “an alternate.” Paprocki mentioned she was afraid to throw kicks out of concern for being taken down, but it ended up not mattering in the end as Gallardo’s wrestling was simply too dominant in too many different positions.
With that, it’s Team Pena’s turn to pick the next heavyweight fight. Pena announces the next heavyweight matchup will pit Bobby Maximus against Eduardo Perez. Perez mentions both fighters’ status as early and late picks but also recognizes that he can’t underestimate Maximus just because he’s longer in the tooth. Maximus had the same thing on his mind, recounting the day he got picked last and thinking how great it would be to take out the top pick from the other side. Sure enough, Maximus got his wish in the end, but time will tell if he and his team bit off a little more than they can chew with this next matchup. TUF history dictates, however, that Maximus is absolutely live to score the upset, and if he can get Perez to the ground as Gallardo did with Paprocki, he may be able to deliver the goods and get his team a third-consecutive win.