The Ultimate Fighter season 20 airs Wednesday, October 29 at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1
Aisling Daly and Angela Magana face off on the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter, as two of the most experienced veterans in the history of women's MMA finally get a chance to shine this week.
Five fights into the current season of The Ultimate Fighter, things have been going quite well for lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and his team of assassins. The momentum all started with the first bout of the season when unknown Canadian Randa Markos took out No. 3 seed and undefeated prospect Tecia Torres to set the tone for the entire competition.
From there, it's just been one shellacking after another as Team Pettis has reeled off win after win after win, and this week they put up one of their most experienced fighters as Irish MMA pioneer Daly takes on Magana.
When it comes to experience, these two women have a wealth of fights under their belt, with both of them facing top-notch competition for several years. Daly has almost 20 professional fights on her record and she's taken on some of the best women's fighters on the planet, including many well above her current weight class of 115 pounds.
Daly faced former UFC fighters Sheila Gaff and Rosi Sexton, as well as Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak and fellow housemate Lisa Ellis. Daly also has a win over current top 10 ranked women's bantamweight Jessica Eye. Daly might look like the latest Irish fighter to invade the UFC, but truth be told, she's been around far longer than many of her well-known teammates.
Daly was having her first fight in MMA over a year ahead of top-ranked featherweight contender Conor McGregor. She was part of the Straight Blast Gym (SBG) with coach John Kavanagh before almost anybody else you have heard of now fighting in the UFC. Daly was not only a pioneer of women's MMA long before it was popular to be a women's fighter, but she was a pioneer of Irish mixed martial arts while the sport was still in its genesis in the country.
This week on the show, Daly even gets to show a little Irish pride as she joins the rest of the fighters in the house to watch the UFC Fight Night card that took place in her hometown of Dublin, Ireland. That was the night where the Irish crowd was dubbed one of the best in UFC history while McGregor stole the show with his first-round finish over former Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Brandao.
Watching Daly watch the fights might be one of the best parts of this entire season.
LONG IS THE WAY, AND HARD, THAT OUT OF HELL LEADS UP TO LIGHT
Angela Magana may have earned the biggest part of her face time this season by going toe-to-toe with her own teammate Heather Clark, but this former New Mexico resident has a story that sounds more like a cautionary tale than a story of redemption.
Because of her mother's own battle with addiction, Magana was brought into this world with heroin already pumping through her veins. She lived a struggle that few can understand and even fewer would be able to survive. Magana grew up on the street and barely understood what family meant for the formative years of her life, but she somehow stayed alive and managed to find a home with her grandparents.
Magana's personal battles didn't stop just because she escaped life on the streets. She's dealt with the loss of her fiancé, a car accident that left her in a coma for days and a broken back. The kind of suffering that Magana has gone through would probably cripple most people, but then again she's not most people.
Now that she's on The Ultimate Fighter after nearly a decade of mixed martial arts, Magana is making the most of her opportunity and it's hard to imagine anyone being more appreciative of this situation than her.
AISLING DALY VS. ANGELA MAGANA
Breaking down the fight between Daly and Magana is tough for any number of reasons. The biggest hindrance is determining which one of these women will come out on top is because they are so evenly matched up.
While Daly is the favorite on paper due to her No. 5 ranking in the tournament, Magana is absolutely no slouch and should not be discounted. She got much of her training here in the United States, working around New Mexico with many gyms affiliated with coaching legend Greg Jackson. Magana eventually started filming a documentary that took her to Thailand to work with Muay Thai boxers at the source of the sport and she fell in love with the area so much that she decided to move there full-time over a year ago.
Hearing about her training in Thailand would make Magana appear to be a stand-up technician, but in reality she's much more dangerous on the ground. Magana has picked up the majority of her wins by submission, and she has one of the slickest armbars in the business.
Daly is no slouch in her ground game either, earning a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She is equally deadly on the mat, although she's shown in many past fights that a TKO finish could come just as quickly as a submission attempt. Daly has also spent much of her career fighting around 125 pounds, which means she will have some size on Magana, but it could also zap her a bit in the weight cutting process.
If there's an "X" factor going into the fight, it has to be the pressure sitting on Magana's shoulders to get her team on the board. There have been some dominant seasons in past years of The Ultimate Fighter, but Team Pettis is doing a number on Team Melendez right now and it would do wonders for the morale of the purple team if Magana could get a win.
Can Magana help her team get on the board for the first time or will Aisling Daly push forward with Team Pettis' dominance and add another win for Irish MMA in 2014?
Watch The Ultimate Fighter this Wednesday night at 10pm on FOX Sports 1 to find out who wins between Magana and Daly.