(Rakoczy vs. Modafferi highlights, via Fox Sports.)
While the first women’s quarterfinal bout on TUF 18 featured an ego-driven meeting of Team Rousey and Team Tate’s top picks, the second one pitted the female bracket’s #4 seeds against each other. At the end of last week’s episode, we saw coach Miesha Tate select WMMA veteran Roxanne Modafferi (who comes onto the show with a five-fight losing streak) to go in against Team Rousey’s Jessica Rakoczy, a former boxing champ who has only earned one victory in five MMA fights. Once again, we have a meeting of the old school vs. the new school — not to mention a classic matchup between a grappler who’s shaky on her feet vs. a striker who’s still learning this jiu-jitsu stuff. Spoiler alert: The fight ends by stoppage, and it’s ugly.
Ronda Rousey is psyched about the matchup, though. “They’re such predictable little pussies,” she says. “[Modafferi's] not gonna be able to bully in, you’ll be able to pick her apart, it’s perfect.” Rakoczy apparently suffered a shoulder injury during her elimination fight, but she’s ready, and Miesha Tate will pay for every smile she smirked.
Modafferi thanks Tate for the fight-selection — in Japanese, obviously — and says she’s not going to underestimate Rakoczy, even though her team (and guest coach Dennis Hallman) are convinced that Modafferi’s got this one in the bag. Vengeful MMA Gods, that’s your cue to enter.
Edmond Tarverdyan mean-mugs Hallman and tries to pick a fight as soon as he sees him. Hallman calls his bluff and offers to settle it right then in the training center. Rousey holds her coach back, then gets in Hallman’s face and throws a “piss fit.” (Miesha’s words, not mine.) Dana White has to come in and play peacemaker, which is kind of an unexpected role for him. I’m sure it’s just that infamous reality show editing, but man, Tarverdyan and Rousey are really coming off like crazy assholes here.
Raquel Pennington gets frustrated by Modafferi’s lower intensity during a grappling session, and wants to train with the male fighters instead. So, Coach Tate makes it happen, running a men vs. women sparring session. Sarah Moras demands that Louis Fisette hit her in the face when she senses that Fisette might be taking it easy on her. He takes her down and pounds on her a bit. So now you’ve seen men fighting women (technically) in the UFC. Happy now, you weirdos?
Jessica Rakoczy has taken on the role of house mother, cleaning the house and kissing boo-boos. With her team down 0-2, she feels the pressure to carry the team on her back, despite her weakened shoulder.
Modafferi and Shayna Baszler are old friends from the dark ages of WMMA, and fought each other in Japan back in 2006. Now, the Happy Warrior spends her free time teaching Baszler Japanese. Everybody loves Roxanne Modafferi. Her constant kindness and sheer unguarded weirdness have made her something of a beloved team mascot.
Rakoczy opens up about the abusive step-father who haunted her childhood and ended up beating her mother to death. “He’ll have his karma,” she says. “He’ll be going to hell, that’s for sure.” Luckily, Jessica was able to focus her resulting anger and aggression into boxing.
Roxanne and Jessica both come in under the bantamweight limit (133 and 132 pounds, respectively), then have a little fun with some nunchucks and a dart-gun before they face-off. Suddenly, Roxanne’s “Happy Warrior” smile goes away. Even the men feel the chill in the room.
Jessica talks about how awkward it is to be preparing for a fight while living in the same house as your opponent. Roxanne makes a life-sized man out of toilet paper rolls. (I’m…so…roneryyyy….) Jessica starts to get emotional thinking about not having her son around. Roxanne gets emotional after reading a note of encouragement from Julianna. Pfft, women, amirite?
Time to bang…
Round 1: Both fighters measuring distance with leg kicks. Jessica throws some fast straight punches to the body and head. She starts out as the aggressor, but then Roxanne fires back some punches of her own, moves Jessica back to the fence, and takes her to the mat. Roxanne hangs out in guard for a bit, Jessica kicks her off, Roxanne comes right back in. Jessica looks for a submission off her back, but can’t put anything together. Roxanne on top in side control, sneaks in a short elbow after a moment of inactivity. Jessica scrambles to her knees, Roxanne looking for back control. She can’t get it, and Jessica winds up on top. Now it’s Roxy looking for an armbar. She loses it and Jessica comes in hard with an elbow from the top. A couple more strikes from above from Jessica, as Roxanne tries to tie her down. Jessica escapes when Roxanne tries for a heel-hook, somersaulting out of danger. Back on the feet, Roxanne misses a spinning backfist by a mile; it is truly Sonnen-esque. Roxanne shoots for a double, Jessica stays on her feet and defends. A bit of dirty boxing against the fence, and Roxanne takes Jessica to the mat again. Jessica tries to work her guard as time expires.
Back on the stool, Roxanne sucks in some very deep breaths as Miesha Tate politely asks her for one takedown in the next round. They know they probably won the opening frame due to top control, and Roxanne’s best bet is to do it all over again. Back on Team Rousey, Edmond’s advice to Jessica is simple: Box the shit out of her.
Round 2: Jessica flashes some punches, and Roxanne wades in to clinch, her arms out like a mummy. Jessica fends her off and scores a brilliant backpedaling knockdown with a left hook. Roxanne pops up and they scrap from close quarters until Roxy falls back into guard. Instead of immediately letting Roxanne up, Jessica tries to make Roxanne pay right then and there, diving in with a punch and trying to work some ground and pound. Roxy nearly catches her in an armbar, and Jessica realizes that maybe standing and banging is the best option here. She retreats to her feet and starts putting on a boxing clinic, tagging Roxy once, twice, then sending her to mat again with another left hook. Hammerfists from Jessica as Roxanne clutches at her legs, trying to convert a double. The ref stops the action and then stands there for a few seconds as everybody wonders what the hell is happening. Finally, the ref takes Jessica aside and tells her that if she grabs the fence again, he’s taking a point. (He also warned her for fence-grabbing in round 1, saying that if she did it again, he’d take a point. Well, he’s not exactly following up on that threat, but the pause does give Roxy a long moment to clear the cobwebs, which is sort of fair, I guess.)
The ref restarts the fight in the same position, with Jessica against the fence and Roxanne down on her legs. Roxanne is tenacious, and eventually drags Jessica down. Jessica flips her with ease and gets on top. Coach Ronda screams at her to stand up — seriously, Jessica, WTF? — but Jessica insists on playing around in guard. As soon as Roxanne latches onto her arms, Jessica takes a page out of the Sarah Kaufman playbook and picks Roxanne, slamming her hard on the mat. Roxanne’s head takes a rather hard bounce. She’s visibly dazed, trying to get up while half-asleep. Jessica stuffs a left hand in her face from above, and Roxy endures what might be her third flash-knockout of this fight. Jessica gets on top, grinds down with some strikes, and gets to her feet. Once more, she pops Roxanne in the face from above, as Roxy rolls around on her back, trying to find the strength to get up. Roxanne gets to one knee, collapses to the mat, and Jessica fires off a perfect dive-bomb KO. It’s over. Thank God, it’s over. Roxanne fought the last 20 of that fight while unconscious. Late stoppage, but at least they let a samurai go out on her sword.
Eventually, Roxanne wakes up screaming. She calls out for her big sister, and Jessica comes over for a post-fight hug and pep-talk. Everybody on Team Tate is gutted for Roxy, but it’s a great moment of inter-Team unity. No hard feelings. Everybody lives to fight another day, hopefully with the lessons they learned from this moment. Roxanne shouts some nonsensical gibberish. Or maybe it’s Japanese, but clearly, the poor kid has suffered some brain damage. She cries into Shayna Baszler’s arms, the only other person in the building who understands exactly how fucking badly this sucks right now.
And so, “Team Rowdy” has control of the fight picks, and Ronda chooses her #2 guy Davey Grant to face Team Tate’s injury replacement Louis Fisette.
On the next episode: Ronda’s mom shows up. HIDE. YOUR. WEED.
Team Rousey Women
Shayna Baszler (eliminated by Julianna Pena in the quarterfinals, episode 2)
Team Rousey Men
Chris Beal (eliminated by Chris Holdsworth in the quarterfinals, episode 3)
Team Tate Women
Roxanne Modafferi (eliminated by Jessica Rakoczy in the quarterfinals, episode 4)
Team Tate Men