Read on to find out the results of The Ultimate Fighter 19 fight between Roger Zapata and Ian Stephens!
This week’s episode gets right to business setting up the fight between Ian Stephens and Roger Zapata. Team Edgar’s first pick, Ian Stephens is a strong wrestler and heavy favorite. On the other side, team Penn’s Roger Zapata was the last pick and not too many people are giving him a chance. Even his own coach BJ Penn admits that the deck is stacked against Roger. The Prodigy isn’t willing to just lay down, though, and we later see that he brings in a special guest to help.
Back at the house, we learn a little more about Ian’s path to The Ultimate Fighter. Sitting around the fire at the house, Ian discusses losing his father at the age of six. A tragic accident, his father suffered a fatal electrocution while working on an air conditioner installation. He also talks about how this event shaped his approach to athletics, and has given him the drive to succeed even with the odds stacked against him. It’s been 19 years since his father’s death. Now that he’s competing on the 19th season of TUF, he thinks that maybe the stars have aligned.
As far as strategy is concerned, Coach Edgar wants Ian to get Roger to the ground. Once he has the takedown, Frankie wants Ian to use his ground and pound. This will cause Roger to give up his back and Ian can lock up the rear naked choke. Ian has slightly different plans, however. Since Roger expects the takedown to come, Ian is going to use a lot of feints. When Roger bites on the fake shot, Ian will deliver a knockout overhand right.
Roger may have to worry about Ian’s right hand, but he has other things on his mind. He had to leave his newborn baby and wife to come on the show, and he’s constantly thinking about them. He admits that he tries to forget about them and focus on the show, but it’s “impossible.” Instead of viewing that as a weakness, Roger says that this attitude has given him strength. Instead of fighting like he has nothing to lose, now he fights harder and stronger to make it home and see his wife and daughter.
Regardless of the result of the fight, Roger will return home a better wrestler. Why? BJ Penn’s has a secret training weapon. Former UFC champion and MMA legend Matt Hughes shows up to help the team with their grappling. They may have been opponents in the Octagon, but Hughes tells us that after retiring he’s maintained a close relationship with BJ Penn because their personalities are so similar. Hughes drills Roger on how to get off the cage and shows him some defensive techniques. Roger tells us that the time with Hughes has given him to huge improvements in his wrestling ability. Will it be enough? We’re about to find out because it’s fight time!
The two touch gloves and Ian opens with a couple hard kicks. Roger works from a southpaw stance, and plays it careful in the opening moments. Ian attempts his first takedown 45 seconds into the frame and pushes Roger against the fence. Ian fights for position and transitions to a belly to back slam. He immediately takes back mount and tries to secure his hooks. He has to reposition his legs, though, and Roger uses that opportunity to make it back to his feet. As Roger works for a kimura, Ian takes him back to the mat. Roger throws some short elbows and referee Steve Mazzagatti tells him to be careful about the angles. Ian is able to repeatedly take Roger down, but can’t seem to garner any offense. Even though he’s in less than ideal positions, Roger continues to punch, elbow and do damage to his opponent. Roger finally takes top position in the closing moments of the round, but only 8 seconds remain.
Ian opens the round with the takedown feint to right cross he told us about in the lead up. The strike puts Roger off balance and Ian easily converts another takedown. He takes Roger’s back again and spends the rest of the round trying to fight for the rear naked choke. Ian doggedly pursues the submission, but Roger’s defense is too solid. Unfortunately, it’s not good enough. He’s avoiding the tap out, but he’s completely stuck and can’t seem to get out of the position. Roger finally stands up with 30 seconds remaining in the round, but Ian frustrates him from that position, too.
The judges come back with the scorecards, and Dana White is visibly pleased. We’re heading to sudden victory!
Ian shoots without hesitation. Roger stops it initially, but Ian continues to drive through and finish. Rogers stands up, but he’s immediately back down on the canvas. Roger positions himself to get some space and drops repeated hammerfists and elbows. Much like the first round, referee Mazzagatti deems the elbows illegal and stops the fight to deduct one point from Roger. This is the point when thinks start to get a little bit tense. Assistant coach Mark Coleman can be seen in the background losing his mind. Dana White disagrees with the call so much that he has to walk away from the rest of the fight and head to his office. Roger tries to plead with Mazzagatti, but to no avail.
After the restart, Roger just doesn’t have anything left. As BJ puts it, “[the deduction] took the wind out of his sails. Ian succeeds on a takedown, takes Roger’s back and spends the rest of the round working for a choke that never comes.
Before the scores are read, the coaches and Dana recap the action. Dana calls Ian a “human blanket,” and it shouldn’t be taken as a compliment. He also credits Roger consistently trying to do damage, and criticizes the referee for the point deduction. Cathal Pendred gives us a breakdown of the 12-6 elbow rule, and the video evidence would seem to support Dana’s conclusion.
The decision is read and Roger Zapata wins.
The whole gym erupts with a mixture of anger and surprise. Dana sends everyone to their respective locker rooms before things become too heated and looks for an explanation. We later hear that one judge scored the round 10-8 for Ian and the two others gave the round to Roger. With the point deduction, this means that it was a 9-9 round. Since there are no draws on the show, they picked who they thought won the entire fight. That happened to be Roger Zapata, and he took the unlikely victory.
Ian Stephens may not have closure, but this episode does. How does the controversial decision affect team dynamics? Can Patrick Walsh bring the momentum back to Team Edgar? Should Roger Zapata go buy a lottery ticket? Find out this and more next week on The Ultimate Fighter!