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The Ultimate Fighter 26 Season Preview

For only the second time in the history of The Ultimate Fighter, a champion will be crowned, as the women's flyweight division is introduced with 16 of the top 125-pound fighters on the planet vying to win a UFC title.

The UFC already has two thriving women's divisions at 135 pounds and 115 pounds, but now the flyweights will get the chance to shine, with several Octagon veterans already expressing interest in moving to the new weight class. In fact, one flyweight fight already took place inside the Octagon when Joanne Calderwood earned a TKO victory against Valerie Letourneau last year. And Calderwood is actually returning to 125 pounds for her next fight against fellow Ultimate Fighter veteran Bec Rawlings in November. While they won't be competing for the inaugural title, it's safe to say both fighters will be keeping a very close eye on the tournament about to unfold to crown the champion.


The women's 125-pound division will officially be introduced on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter, with former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and rising star Justin Gaethje serving as coaches for the latest edition of the show.

The women's flyweight division has a rich history in mixed martial arts, with several notable fighters competing in the weight class prior to coming to the UFC including former top 10 ranked bantamweight Jessica Eye, who was once considered the best in the world at 125 pounds.

There will definitely be some familiar faces on this season of The Ultimate Fighter as well, with at least one Octagon veteran and another former cast member from the reality show making appearances this season.

Lauren Murphy, who fought four times in the UFC as a former Invicta FC women's bantamweight champion, will make the move down to 125 pounds for the new season of The Ultimate Fighter. Murphy trains out of The MMA Lab in Arizona, where she works alongside a slew of top fighters, including UFC veterans such as Bryan Barberena and former lightweight champion Benson Henderson. Murphy is a tenacious wrestler with good grappling and she's got the experience edge on her side as she steps into this competition looking for her first UFC championship.

Another name to watch is Roxanne Modafferi, who competed on The Ultimate Fighter season 18 when the bantamweights went to battle under head coaches Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. Modafferi didn't get to win that tournament, but she soon found a new home at 125 pounds, where she's achieved a lot of success in recent fights. Modafferi has won her last two fights, including a very impressive TKO over veteran Sarah D'Alelio in May.

Invicta FC veteran DeAnna Bennett will also look to make an impact this season after garnering a ton of experience outside of the UFC. Bennett trains out of The Pit in Utah, where she works alongside fighters such as Joshua Burkman and Ramsey Nijem. Bennett has an impressive 8-3 record that includes a victory over Ultimate Fighter season 18 winner and current UFC bantamweight contender Julianna Pena.
 

Maia Stevenson not only carries a veteran record into her appearance on The Ultimate Fighter this season, but she has a very recognizable name as well. Stevenson is married to former Ultimate Fighter winner and recent Ultimate Fighter: Redemption participant Joe Stevenson. She comes into this competition off five straight wins as she looks to build on that streak with a few more victories in hopes of becoming UFC champion.

Sijara Eubanks is one of the craftier specialists joining this season of the show thanks to a long and extensive background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Eubanks has taken home a ton of grappling titles throughout her competitive career while putting together a 2-2 record overall since transitioning to mixed martial arts. Eubanks may have a couple losses, but it has to be noted that she's only faced very stiff competition, with those defeats coming against current UFC fighters Katlyn Chookagian and Aspen Ladd.

Perhaps one of the biggest favorites in the competition this season will be former Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak, who will make her return to action for the first time in nearly three years to take part in the new season of TUF. Honchak has only suffered two losses during her professional career to current UFC fighters Cat Zingano and Angela Magana, but since then she's reeled off nine straight victories, including two title defenses in Invicta FC.
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Honchak has fought a laundry list of tough competition throughout her career while holding wins over notable names including Octagon veterans such as Leslie Smith, Aisling Daly, Nina Ansaroff and Felice Herrig. Honchak also holds a win over fellow housemate Roxanne Modefferi. If the time off hasn't slowed Honchak down, she will definitely be a name to watch on this season of the show. That also means Honchak will most certainly have a rather large target on her back, as the other fighters will undoubtedly look to eliminate her from the competition, considering her massive success as a flyweight fighter.

American Top Team fighter Gillian Robertson will attempt to make an impact this season, and she has a ton of experience under her belt as both a professional and amateur, a run that includes a fight with current top 10-ranked strawweight Cynthia Calvillo. Montana Stewart joins the show as a former standout high school wrestler who has transitioned into mixed martial arts before facing several tough opponents, including a matchup with Calvillo, as well as highly touted prospect Mackenzie Dern. Nicco Montano joins the show out of Fit NHB in New Mexico, where she trains alongside welterweight knockout artist Tim Means while putting together an impressive 5-0 mark as an amateur before turning pro.

There's a ton of talent in this season of the show, and after the tournament is completed, the first ever women's flyweight champion will be crowned at The Ultimate Fighter Finale on Dec. 1 in Las Vegas. It's a historic moment for the women competing at 125 pounds while they compete in the toughest tournament in sports, and it all kicks off on FS1 at 10pm ET on Wednesday night, Aug. 30.

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