(The entire Raquel Pennington vs. Jessamyn Duke fight, via YouTube.com/TheUltimateFighter)
By Elias Cepeda
At the start of last night’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter, we learn that this week’s paired up opponents — Team Rousey’s Jessamyn Duke and Team Tate’s Raquel Pennington — were supposed to fight once before. Jessamyn was to make her pro debut against Raquel but her coaches made her pull out because they didn’t like the match up for her.
Jessamyn says she’s glad it is finally happening and on this large stage, no less. Raquel is like, whatever, I’m happy to fight you now because I was ready to fight you a while ago.
Raquel gets make over from Julianna Pena, who is supposedly a “little princess.” Raquel talks about the difficulty of having come out as gay to her family and learning to value her own happiness above what others think of her, while we watch her try on high heels, perhaps for the first time, and get a runway walking lesson from Julianna near the pool.
Raquel takes off the heels and gets back into the gym to work on her Muay Thai kickboxing — specifically defending against the clinch of the taller Jessamyn. Coach Tate tells Raquel not to respect Jessamyn’s punching power because she thinks the beanpole ex-model has not yet learned to hit with power. By contrast, Tate says that Raquel is the strongest girl on her team, and she’s concerned that Raquel will get going to a fast start.
After a commercial break, the teams are taken to something called The Green Valley Ranch, which seems to be a high-end bordello. A bunch of scantily clad Hooters Girls await them and pour them drinks. A pool party ensues, featuring gratuitous slo-mo shots of Tate entering the water and bikini-clad backsides. Luckily, the TUF YouTube channel has released video of that too:
Raquel was bummed she couldn’t eat from the buffet because she was cutting weight, but she did push Tate into the water. Jessamyn says that if she was fighting anywhere else, any other time, she would not have gone to a pool party the day before weighing in, so she skips the festivities. Duke stays at the house alone and says she appreciated the quiet time and used it to focus on her fight.
Back at the pool part, Ronda decides not to fuck with the Tate family and everyone has a good time, with no Armenian-infused tension.
The part where a nation begins to root for Anthony to get knocked out
Team Rousey’s Anthony Gutierrez returns from the pool party, hopped up on liquor and frustrated that none of the hired girls at the ranch would give him the time of day. So, he takes out his frustration on the house. He screams, he stomps around, he throws things at the door of Raquel’s room as she tries to sleep and then proceeds to open up the door, jump on the girls’ beds, and drag Raquel out of hers.
Raquel has a fight coming up and is cutting weight. There could not be a worse time to mess with someone’s sleep or general peace of mind than right now. Anthony should know this well as a fighter himself. Raquel promises revenge. We’re hoping for the ol’ super-glue-on-the-eyelids or bludgeoning-with-a-chair-while-he-sleeps routine.
Instead, Julianna, Sarah Moras, and Raquel just go into Anthony’s room the next morning while he is sleeping, jump on his bed to wake him up, and then flip his mattress over while he’s still on it. Which was probably pretty easy for them because he’s a very, very small man.
Jessamyn readies for war
Back in the Team Rousey training room, coach Edmond advises Jessamyn to use her reach and keep Raquel at the end of her jab. Coach Rousey says that JD is raring to fight.
Duke says that she believes Raquel is the toughest girl left in the tournament and so if she beats her, she’ll be able to win the whole thing. Raquel says that she has had to distance herself from Jessamyn the past few days in order to prepare for their fight.
“No fight is easy but this one is simple. Be focused, be first,” Rousey tells Jessamyn in the locker room before the fight.
“You’re too strong for her. You’re too mentally tough. Just go, go, go, go,” Raquel is prodded in her locker room by a coach.
“The first round has to be yours,” Tate tells her.
The first round proves to be a torrid affair as both women go hard. Raquel lands early and often with a hard inside leg kick while Jessamyn tries to keep her at bay with her jab and head kicks. Raquel forces her way inside and presses Jessamyn against the cage only to be caught in a standing guillotine.
Jessamyn looks to have a good grip on it as she works to secure the choke for the better part of a minute but Raquel defends well and works her way out of it and returns to the center of the Octagon. From there, both fighters throw and land with about the same frequency.
Jessamyn tries to use her length through kicks and Raquel counters off those kicks with effective punches of her own. Jessamyn lands a couple knees to the head but Raquel walks through them and returns fire.
Both fighters begin by popping out the jab. Jessamyn finds success with some body kicks but Raquel begins to find her own range with an over hand right off of a jab.
Jessamyn gets the clinch and lands several hard knees to the head and body before Raquel punches her way out. Raquel begins to land the more powerful shots, mostly punches. Then, she initiates her own clinch, landing nasty knees to Jessamyn’s body and head.
They must have hurt but the knees also served to piss Jessamyn off as she pushes off and returns fire with knees and punches of her own. Raquel then really finds her mark with her right and left hands, teeing off on Jessamyn against the cage and hurting the Team Rousey fighter.
Jessamyn does not wilt, however, and gets back to the center of the mat before clinching with Raquel again and landing a few more nasty knees to her head. Raquel answers with another crushing right hand. Raquel lands a left push kick that sends Jessamyn careening backwards. Then, Raquel lands a rear round house leg kick. Jessamyn follows up with a head kick of her own.
Jessamyn lands a jab, then a left hook, followed up by knee after knee from the Thai plum clinch while pressing Raquel against the cage until the round ends.
The fight is scored dead even after two so we head into a sudden death round to decide a winner!
Coach Tate’s prediction to her fighter Raquel proved to be true in the third round as Raquel’s striking power started to make the difference for her. Jessamyn continued her attack of head kicks and jabs but none of them landed as hard as Raquel’s hard lefts and rights, as well as her stiff leg kicks.
As the round progressed, Jessamyn began to eat more and more power shots to the head but kept moving forward, undeterred. With both her eyes bruised and her face cut, Jessamyn gave it one last flurry of effort in the final thirty seconds of the fight, landing punches and knees.
In the end, however, it was not enough and Raquel won the round and the fight on the judges’ scorecards.
Coach Tate shakes the hand of everyone in Jessamyn’s corner after the fight. Well, everyone except for Coach Rousey who, as Tate extends her hand, puts up a single finger and tells Meisha to “go fuck yourself.”
We may not have seen much of her in this episode, but “Rowdy” Rousey is always there. Don’t you forget it.
Coach Tate regains fight selection rights because of the win and selects Josh Hill (former male model) vs. Michael Wooten (current British guy). Thanks for joining us, ‘Taters. See ya next week!
Team Rousey Women
Shayna Baszler (eliminated by Julianna Pena in the quarterfinals, episode 2)
Jessamyn Duke (eliminated by Raquel Pennington in the quarterfinals, episode 6)
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
Louis Fisette (eliminated by Davey Grant in the quarterfinals, episode 5)