Last week's episode of TUF 18 should have brought a tear to everyone's eyes as Roxanne Modafferi's dream to become the Ultimate Fighter came to an end when she lost in an upset to former boxing champion Jessica Rakoczy. It was an emotional loss for Modafferi, who is considered to be one of the pioneers of women's MMA.
The loss did manage to accomplish one thing that had previously not happened during this season of the show, and that was silence the bitter back and forth between coaches Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. The two bantamweight women have been engaged in a war of words all season long, but watching a fighter like Modafferi lose seemed to calm the stormy waters just a bit as we head into this week’s episode.
For the first time since she picked the inaugural fight for the season, Rousey got control of the bout selection back, and she chose British fighter David Grant to take on late replacement Louis Fisette, who received a second chance on the show after Tim Gorman was forced to withdraw with an injured leg.
Before Grant gets a chance to throw down in the cage, he will have a little extra help with his judo prior to the fight when Rousey's mother Ann Maria Rousey DeMars makes a stop by the Ultimate Fighter gym to help coach a session with her daughter's team.
DeMars is not only Rousey's mother, but a world-class judo champion and the first ever woman from the United States to capture a World Judo Championship. She's also been a major influence on Rousey's upbringing in the fight game, and her tough love approach to training has been well documented over the years.
It will certainly be interesting to see how she interacts with the newest crop of fighters hoping to join her daughter in the UFC.
Another major storyline that's sure to develop in every season of The Ultimate Fighter is the constant battle for the competitors to make weight during the show. While some fighters in the house are moving up in weight just for the chance to be part of the cast, many of the men and women are natural bantamweights, and cutting down to 135 pounds multiple times over the course of six weeks isn't an easy prospect.
It's made even harder by the fact that the producers on the show allow the fighters to give them a grocery list each week where they can receive any foods they wish, and it's safe to say the choices are not always Dolce Diet approved.
In past seasons some fighters have even had to exit the show after not being able to make weight, something most notoriously documented during season five when lightweight Gabe Ruediger just couldn't lose another pound and had to leave when he failed to cut down to the lightweight limit.
Hopefully, the upcoming fighters battling for their spot in the house won't have that issue, especially a fighter like Fisette, who is getting a second opportunity after losing in his opening round match to get into the house.
Fisette lost by arm triangle choke to submission specialist Chris Holdsworth in the elimination fight to get into the house, and as it turns out the loss doesn't seem nearly as bad given the circumstances. Holdsworth may be the best submission fighter on the show this season, and after his performance eliminating Chris Beal two weeks ago, it's hard not to consider him a favorite going forward as well.
Fisette re-entered the house without taking much damage in his loss, and on paper it doesn't appear his next opponent has the same kind of pedigree as Holdsworth, but he might be just as dangerous.
Grant comes from England, where fighters notoriously love to stand and trade with an opponent, but he's a very well-rounded martial artist that can finish the fight anywhere. During his nine fight pro career, Grant has finished seven out of his eight opponents by submission. He's only seen the second round two times in his career as well, so he's a finisher that loves to get the early stoppage.
Fisette is a very similar fighter, with a mix of submission and knockout finishes to his credit, and he also has only made it to the second round twice in his seven-fight career. What Fisette also has going for him is the fact that he has nothing to lose. He wasn't even supposed to be here, so he has a chance to make the most of his second trip to the Octagon, and he certainly wants to impress UFC president Dana White for giving him the opportunity to return.
That said, Grant does seem slightly ahead in overall skills going into their matchup. He's a dangerous, move-forward striker that uses his aggression to throw opponents off their game. Grant also had one of the toughest matchups to get into the house when he faced veteran Danny Martinez, and the back and forth war ended with the Brit getting the submission via armbar in the second round.
Don't look for Fisette to fade under the pressure, but Grant is slick at choosing his spots and picking his poison to find the right opening to put an opponent away. Grant will be the favorite and the pick to win going into this one, but if there's one thing we've learned thus far in this season of The Ultimate Fighter - nobody is safe, and in this house there are no favorites anymore.