The final women’s flyweight quarterfinal matchup is on tap in the latest episode of the 30th season of The Ultimate Fighter. One week removed from a dramatic scrap in the last heavyweight quarterfinal of the season between Chandler Cole and Jordan Heiderman, fight fans will now get a look at Team Nunes’ Invicta vet Brogan Walker as she is tentatively scheduled to take on Bellator and BKFC vet Hannah Guy from Team Pena.
“Tentatively” is the key word, however, with Walker nursing a knee injury at this stage in the season that could force her out of the fight or hamper her fighting ability in a best-case scenario. This week will not be the first time Team Nunes has needed to work around an injury this season to make it to fight day, however, with Cole overcoming an elbow injury to make it to his fight with Heiderman, nearly finishing the larger man with a beautiful spinning wheel kick in the first round. Fight fans will soon get an answer to who the last women’s semifinalist will be, and this week’s episode will also conclude with UFC President Dana White unveiling the remaining matchups that will determine the two finalists in each of this season’s weight classes.
TUF 30 Episode 8 Recap
The eighth episode of the season begins at the TUF House, where Bobby Maximus has complimentary words for Cole coming off his performance against Heiderman, particularly in regards to the spinning wheel kick.
“Chris Barnett‘s cousin!” someone calls out off-camera.
Cole mentions in a confessional that even though he did not get the win over Heiderman, he hopes his performance was enough to impress White and the UFC brass. He admits the next step for him is to get his weight under control to be able to fight a hard 15-minute pace. It is good to hear Cole admitting to running out of steam in the third round against Heiderman, as despite what his coaches and team may say about the judging that ultimately triggered a third round, a proper UFC fight is going always going to be scheduled for a minimum of three five-minute rounds, so it is up to the fighter to be physically able when the going gets tough. Either way, good to see all the heavyweights in the house upbeat about the fight, because it was a lot of fun while it lasted.
Viewers then receive an update on Walker’s knee. Head Coach Amanda Nunes believes Walker’s knee injury will be “something she always has” but is not anything she will not be able to tough through come fight time. Walker, meanwhile, received physical therapy from UFC Director of Physical Therapy Heather Linden, and seems to be moving reasonably well in training clips. Nunes mentions how they are expecting a standup fight with Guy, a bareknuckle fighter, and that Walker is capable of finishing the fight both on the feet and on the ground.
Walker is then seen talking to Heiderman in the house about their travel aspirations as the viewer gets to learn a bit more about Walker’s path to TUF. A native of the Inland Empire in Southern California, Walker met her ex-boyfriend in 2010 through a mutual love of martial arts and eventually moved to Tumon, Guam in 2012 where she has remained ever since. Walker works as a first-grade teacher in her newly adopted place of residence and trains out of Pure Bred Jiu-Jitsu. Walker, 32, is 7-2 as a pro, but compiled a 6-0 record in Muay Thai prior to transitioning to MMA. From there, she discovered jiu-jitsu and eventually went all-in on her MMA career, which has been to date among the most successful of any woman in the house this season. Although Walker still calls Guam home, she is currently residing in Upland, California, where she spent most of her time preparing for the show with her original coach, Betiss Mansouri of SupaMMA.
Walker laments the fact that she had to leave behind a first-grade teaching job in Guam in order to move back stateside to better prepare herself for the TUF experience, but reiterates she is satisfied with where he career has taken her and could continue to take her. She is confident she will become the next Ultimate Fighter, and so long as her knee holds up against Guy, she certainly has a shot.
Meanwhile, Team Pena brought in TUF 29 finalist Brady Hiestand as an additional training partner. Hiestand is a training partner of Pena’s at Sikjitsu, competing on Team Volkanovski last season alongside eventual winner Ricky Turcios. Hiestand’s inclusion should give the team some variety in training, getting to train with a new body with a different skillset. Hiestand puts Pena over as “a beast,” making himself available to work with both the men and women of the team. Pena then begins to fill Guy in on Walker’s fighting style, which she seems to have a pretty good grasp on. Pena notes that Walker throws “about one left hand for every 30 rights” and that Guy’s best path to victory will be to make the Octagon smaller and win scrambles. Pena’s comments are interesting considering that earlier in the episode, Walker trained angles and distance with Assistant Coach John Wood, with the goal of unloading on Guy against the cage. Guy mentions she is focused on tightening up her entire game, but then goes on to say that while she has heard Walker is a “black belt” she is not a very good one. The idea that no two black belts are created equal inside an MMA cage or ring is one that has held true over time, but Nunes seemed confident in Walker’s ability to outshine Guy on the ground previously in the episode, so the manner in which both fighters’ game plans work with or against one another will be something to monitor.
Back at the house, Hiestand has remained with Team Pena to assist Guy on her weight cut. Fight fans learn that Guy is currently living in a ’91 Ford converted ambulance turned motorhome she calls “Lola.” For those wondering, she adds that the siren, lights, and PA system are still fully functional in her home. She also mentions that it’s not great on gas, but saves her money on owning both a house and car, so it does the job. Guy was raised by her mother in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and later moved to Columbus, Mississippi during her senior year of high school. Eventually, she found martial arts, and in with that, a sense of belonging that she did not have in Vicksburg. Guy, 27, is 4-1 as a professional and got introduced to the concept of TUF by a college boyfriend during Season 18 when Ronda Rousey coached against Miesha Tate. A couple of weeks later, Guy found herself in a gym, sticking with mixed martial arts due to the rawness of the sport.
She is currently in a relationship with Eric Longar, who owns 10th Planet Crystal City, but notes she has been working out of 10th Planet Decatur ahead of coming on the show. Upon coming into the house, Guy admits she initially struggled with confidence but has settled into the culture of Team Pena and now feels like she deserves to be here.
With that, Forrest Griffin is back to lead the weigh-ins. Walker is first to weigh in, who has no trouble making the 126-pound limit. Teammate Claire Guthrie chimes in, calling Walker the toughest matchup she envisioned for herself coming into the house. Guy is next to weigh in, who also makes weight with little trouble to make the fight official.
Heading into the fight, Walker reveals she has been journaling throughout her time on the show and feels at peace heading into the fight. Guy calls the fight with Walker, “her moment to shine.” Thus far, the episode has been pretty straightforward, but perhaps this week’s drama lies in the fight itself. Either way, the wait is over!
The tale of the tape has both fighters pretty evenly matched physically outside of Walker holding a three-inch reach advantage. Mike Beltran is the referee. Sure enough, Walker’s reputation as a tricky fight is holding true, standing in a southpaw stance despite being right-handed, causing her to lead early with a flurry of pawing right hands in an attempt to find her range. Through the first minute, Walker has been able to effectively stick and move, so the onus will now be on Guy to get inside and land some fight-altering damage. Nearly two minutes in Guy is able to find a home for her own right hand, causing Walker to adjust by throwing more leg kicks. Walker is then able to connect on a left hand, the biggest shot of the round so far at roughly the 2:15 mark, making the one left hand out of 30 right’s Team Pena predicted she would throw count. Both fighters then exchange about 11 punches without landing before Guy lands a lead kick to the body. Nunes is imploring her fighter to “set up with the right.” As Guy is starting to get a read on Walker’s movement and cut off her angle, she lunges forward but gets caught with a clean right hook from Walker that knocks her down. Walker, to her credit, gave Guy no time to maneuver, immediately assuming top position out of the half-guard. With roughly one minute left in the round, Guy is able to work her way back to her feet, but gets caught in a guillotine attempt from Walker that allows her to land some big knees standing, as well as on the ground to the body with Guy slumped in a compromising position against the cage.
An excellent end to the round for Walker, who has a clear 10-9 in her back pocket heading into the second.
“I need you to get f***ing mean,” Pena whispered to Guy in between rounds. There is something hauntingly motivating about Pena speaking in a soft tone of voice. It has become clear through this show that she is an excellent coach, knowing all the right buttons to push with her fighters, and might yet have a head coaching career in the sport if she wants it.
Walker looks to be chomping at the bit for Round 2 to begin, and thus far, Guy is yet to pose a substantial threat in any facet of the fight. As the two converge in the center, Walker is able to find a home on the first combination she throws, staggering Guy before pushing her against the fence and eventually taking her down with a body lock. Walker lets Guy back to her feet and lands a crisp overhand right before reassuming cage control. Guy is able to land a knee with her back to the cage, but soon trips herself to the ground, allowing Walker to take back cage control. Nunes calls for her fighter to “calm down,” with Walker in firm control of the round through the first two minutes. Walker is then able to get double underhooks, but is unable to take Guy to the ground, resulting in referee Beltran encouraging the fighters to get to work. Guy is finally able to break the clinch at around the 2:25 mark, and looks like she is going to shoot for an immediate takedown, but instead adjusts and lands a right hand of her own with Walker on the move. Guy attempts to log some cage control of her own against Walker, but Walker is able to skirt away until Guy completely closes off distances and drags her to the ground, ending up on Walker’s back. Guy immediately locks in a body triangle on Walker, holding back control while raining down hooks with Walker in a crouched position near the cage. As Walker looks to get back standing, the momentum of Guy on her back ultimately brings them both back to the ground as Guy attempts a rear-naked choke. All of a sudden, the second round has become a tricky round to score, as Walker is unable to make her way back to her feet despite controlling things for more than half the time.
Pena believes her fighter stole the round, while Nunes and her corner once again believe the fight to be over with Walker taking the second round. However, Beltran brings both fighters to the center of the cage with a decision apparently reached to the shock of Pena, along with UFC President White.
Brogan Walker defeats Hannah Guy via Majority Decision
In recapping the fight, Pena mentions that her fighter “got dropped again” at the start of Round 2, but whether or not she did depends on how one would define “getting dropped.” While a Walker right hand knocked Guy to her back in Round 1, another right hand in Round 2 sent her to her knees but just enough to allow her to pop back up and continue forward pressure. A significant blow without a doubt, but with the tendency of some judges to award a 10-9 in favor of the fighter with the knockdown, regardless of what transpires the rest of the round, Guy may have been fighting an uphill battle the rest of the round.
Upon watching it back, how the Round 2 knockdown was scored could very well have determined the fight with two judges awarding the second round to Walker. Guy did land some ground and pound from back control, but in retrospect, the shots may not have been significant enough to sway the round, and the rear-naked choke attempt was not particularly close despite Guy maintaining a body triangle. Additionally, Guy’s takedown came at precisely the 90-second mark, meaning Walker controlled 70 percent of the round before Guy finally assumed control of the fight on the ground. Even White admitted after the fight that the ground strikes may not have been significant enough to offset getting clipped at the beginning of the round. Guy apologizes for her performance, but Pena assures her she has nothing to be sorry about.
In the ensuing scene, both coaches reconvene with White to determine the matchups they would like to see in the semifinals, which will determine which four fighters will compete for each of the two TUF 30 crowns this season and earn a UFC contract. While the two teams split fights in the women’s flyweight division, Team Pena has three finalists at heavyweight, meaning two of the fighters will have to compete against one another. Sure enough, both coaches have different ideas on the heavyweight semifinals, with Pena suggesting Heiderman fight teammate Zac Pauga and Mohammed Usman fight Team Nunes’ Eduardo Perez. Nunes, meanwhile, suggests that Perez fight Heiderman and Usman fight Pauga due to Perez and Usman being the top two fighters out of the four. As for the women’s flyweights, when asked by White who wins the tournament, both coaches name each of their two remaining fighters to the surprise of no one.
“There’s no surprise there’s still a lot of tension between Amanda and Julianna,” White said. “They didn’t seem to agree on much today. It looks like I’m gonna have to make some tough decisions on these semifinal matchups.”
Back in the gym, White reveals he decided to go with Pauga vs. Heiderman in the first heavyweight semifinal and Usman vs. Perez in the second, giving Pena what she believes are the best odds of putting two fighters in the final. The first flyweight semifinal also went the way of Pena’s suggestion, with Walker set to face Laura Gallardo of Team Pena in the first semi and Juliana Miller slated to take on Kaytlin Neil of Team Nunes in the second. Regardless, each of the remaining fights this season should be pleasing to the eye of fans of the sport as another step is taken towards crowning the next two Ultimate Fighters.
Next week’s episode will feature the Coaches’ Challenge, an axe-throwing contest, along with the first heavyweight semifinal between Pauga and Heiderman.