The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) had its fifth episode of Season 30 on Tuesday evening, with a featured fight that pitted the last heavyweight pick from Team Pena, Bobby Maximus, against the first pick from Team Nunes, Eduardo Perez. Tuesday’s fight had several narratives on the table, including Maximus stepping inside a cage for the first time in a decade as well as the fight being a striker vs. grappler matchup not at all unlike the fight fans saw unfold between the coaches, Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena last year.
TUF 30 Episode 5 Recap
The fifth episode of the season opens with mutual respect between Kathryn Paprocki and Laura Gallardo following their fight in Episode 4. Gallardo is excited to have gotten the win, while Paprocki laments the game plan her team came up for her, which saw her throw fewer kicks in an attempt to not get taken down. That plan didn’t necessarily pan out with Gallardo winning a majority decision, but Paprocki believed she learned a lesson in self confidence that she will take with her the rest of her career.
Meanwhile, chatter has begun to pick up surrounding this week’s heavyweight fight, the first since Mohammed Usman defeated Mitchell Sipe two weeks ago. Usman told Maximus that Perez is going to find out why he’s called “Maximus.” Viewers also got to learn a bit more about Perez. The Bay Area-native, who holds a pro record of 4-1, comes from a long line of fighters with his grandfather having been a street fighter back in his family’s native Mexico years ago. Perez fancies himself a striker, but training out of AKA brings a well-rounded skillset to the table. His nickname is “The Boogeyman,” a moniker Perez does not take lightly and he is proud of his Mexican heritage. He spoke specifically of the work he put in with Todd Duffee and former two-division champion Daniel Cormier leading up to his time on the show. He called being on the show “an opportunity he couldn’t pass up,” and had not been to Las Vegas prior to filming the show.
Back in the training room, Team Nunes is training offense with some added pressure coming into this week’s fight being on a bit of a skid. However, the team received some more bad news after a freak training injury caused heavyweight Chandler Cole‘s elbow to pop. The severity of the injury is currently unclear to the viewer, though Cole assures fans he will be prepared to fight when the time comes.
If Maximus feels like a familiar name to fight fans, it is because he appeared on the second season of TUF, losing a preliminary bout to eventual runner-up Brad Imes as a member of Team Hughes. Real name Rob MacDonald, Maximus earned a UFC contract anyway, as he sustained a shoulder injury during the Imes fight that ultimately cost him the win. The doctors initially believed the shoulder injury to be career-ending, but with the severity not being as bad as initially thought, he continued his career, winning his UFC debut by first-round armbar. He then went on a bit of a skid, fighting his last fight for the promotion at UFC 62. At around this time, his first son was born, and Maximus did not believe he could be the father he wanted to be while sustaining a career as a professional mixed martial artist. Maximus told the cameras his own father passed away when he was 20, and because of that, he was at peace with never fighting in the UFC again if it meant becoming the best father possible. When the 43-year-old heard the 30th season of TUF would feature heavyweights, “something clicked.”
Maximus spoke of running his own gym, a common theme of this season. Despite his age, Maximus believes himself to be one of the fittest people in his age bracket on the planet. Maximus also believes that children learn not through what their parents say, but by what they do, and what better way to lead by example than by attempting to chase his dream one final time.
“When I was on The Ultimate Fighter as Robert MacDonald, I was a little insecure, a little bit unsure of myself and I wasn’t willing to fight for what I wanted,” Maximus said. “Bobby Maximus is 100-percent all-in and he’s here to win it all. I mean, what a story: to win Season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter and get back in the big show, the universe is speaking to me.”
Team Nunes then receives more bad news regarding Cole’s elbow. The heavyweight ended up with a complete tear of his UCL as a result of a ground exchange. The doctor told Cole and Nunes that while he recommends a month of rest, he is not going to tell him not to fight and that it will be up to his team to keep the injury on the down low. It’s not often that news of a torn UCL would be music to a fighter’s ears, but that’s what it is to Cole, at least in the interim.
Perez then speaks more on the matchup with Maximus. He calls himself a “patient striker,” ready for wherever the fight ends up, and Nunes credits Perez’ knockout power as a big advantage he’ll have in the fight. Perez says there is not opponent he’ll ever take lightly, including Maximus, layoff and all. Nunes also credits his fire and hunger, believing he can win the whole tournament.
Maximus, meanwhile, is getting philosophical back in the house, detailing the work he does in sports psychology on the side. He believes the competition aspect of competing to be 90-percent mental, 10-percent physical. He encourages Claire Guthrie and Brogan Walker of Team Nunes to write letters to themselves, as there is no more powerful form of communication to one’s self than the written word. Both fighters are appreciative of Maximus’ help, and Maximus is more than happy to be selfless, even with Walker and Guthrie competing for the other team. Maximus seems like an extremely wholesome individual, and it will be an incredible story if he can upset Perez and make a run in the tournament.
Not everyone is a fan of Maximus’ life advice, however. Teammate Juliana Miller told the cameras she felt “betrayed” by Maximus imparting wisdom on members of Team Nunes, unable to understand why he would want to help members of the other team. She didn’t just tell the cameras, however; she told him to his face on the bus ride to the Apex. Maximus retorts that he doesn’t talk about Miller to the other team at all, and that Miller should not have to worry about training on the other side of the gym. Miller said she was “almost in tears” watching Maximus talk to members of the other team the night before, and has no regrets about confronting Maximus on how she felt. That said, not everyone on Team Pena was on board with her decision. Heavyweight Zac Pauga, for instance, was not a fan of Miller speaking her mind, shooting Maximus a humorous look after the exchange. Maximus himself says Miller needs to “grow the fuck up” during his confessional.
“Juju likes to complain about everything,” Pauga said. “It’s not like there’s anything Bobby can tell the other team, giving them some secret to beating someone on our team. You just have to focus on yourself and what you can control.”
Maximus says he thrives on being the underdog and is ready to surprise everyone and eager to show the coaches they picked wrong. He characterizes the fight as a striker vs. grappler matchup, a common theme as of late between the two teams though it remains to be seen if Perez will be able to have the 43-year-old covered in the grappling. Maximus acknowledges that there will be ring rust when he steps in the cage for the first time in 13 years but is prepared to go out and “do what he does.” Back in the house, Maximus reassures Miller he is not divulging her training, gameplan or otherwise to the other team and that while they may not see eye to eye on some things that he wants her to win. Miller, referencing her past, still feels like she can’t trust Maximus and with her fight still to come, it will be interesting to see if the paranoia over the situation hampers her mentally when her name is eventually called.
The weigh-ins are next on the docket. Perez tips the scales at 266 while Maximus comes in at 237. Both teams have the utmost confidence in their fighters, with Team Nunes believing Perez to be the tournament favorite while Team Nunes members love the fact that Maximus called for the Perez fight. One of the most anticipated fights of the season to date is now just minutes away.
Prior to the fight, UFC President Dana White, who is sitting cageside like usual, is informed that Bobby Maximus is Rob MacDonald from the second season of the show and can’t believe it.
The fight opens with a quick takedown for Maximus, but Perez is able to find his way back to the feet quickly before getting taken down again and immediately mounted. Not a good start for Perez, and one has to wonder if Maximus, the leaner fighter, though older, will gain an edge the longer the fight goes. Perez is able to fight his way back up once again, though finds himself stuck in an over-under clinch two minutes into the round. Eventually, he is able to get away and sting Maximus with a knee.
Just when it seems like Perez is going to be the aggressor, Maximus comes forward again to initiate an over-under clinch. Perez, having no respect for Maximus’ striking, is keeping his hands down, and is able to more effectively defend the third and fourth takedown attempt as a result. A failed takedown attempt from Maximus sees Perez assume top control, and from there is able to bludgeon Maximus with strikes until referee Mike Beltran is forced to step in.
“Damn, that turned around,” White said.
Eduardo Perez defeats Bobby Maximus via TKO (Strikes) at 3:58 of Round 1
Pena believed her fighter got overly aggressive in top control and surrendering it too easily in favor of landing strikes. White credited Perez after the fight, calling him “deceiving” in a complimentary way. He also credited his takedown defense, though the fight really came down to Maximus being too one dimensional. Once Perez knew Maximus was takedown or bust, he was able to more effective fend off the attempts, and at 43-years-old, the durability just wasn’t there for Maximus.
Back in the locker room, Maximus is disappointed he wasn’t able to get the job done, but believes he is hitting his stride under Pena’s tutelage remarking there is “no reason this has to be the end.”
With that, it’s time for the next fight announcement. To recap, Team Pena has three victories in the first five fights while Team Nunes has two. Sure enough, Pena announces the next fight will be Juliana Miller vs. Claire Guthrie in the women’s flyweight division. There will be a ton to unpack in next week’s episode, with both fighters having fought each other once already professionally (May 2021) with Guthrie handing Miller her first-ever defeat after an 8-0 amateur career and 2-0 start as a professional. Miller’s spat with Maximus earlier in the episode should also add some heat to next week’s fight, and with the next episode teasing an apparently tough weight cut for Guthrie, episode six should be mandatory viewing for fans of the show.