The semifinals are now set after the last two quarterfinal round matchups took place on the most recent episode of The Ultimate Fighter: A New World Champion.
In the first matchup this week, former Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak looked to continue her run through the tournament where she entered as one of the biggest favorites to make it all the way to the finals. She faced off with Hawaiian fighter Rachael Ostovich-Berdon, who pulled off an upset in her elimination round matchup and looked like a serious threat to take down Honchak as well going into this week.
Following a quick weigh-in, it was time for Honchak and Ostovich-Berdon to meet.
BARB HONCHAK VS. RACHAEL OSTOVICH-BERDON
A lot of side-to-side movement early from Ostovich-Berdon as she looks to stay away from Honchak's grappling game. The fighters begin to exchange some punches, with Honchak taking the center of the Octagon and Ostovich-Berdon countering with a nice left jab that lands flush. Ostovich-Berdon finally presses forward with some big combinations as the fighters begin trading shots. Honchak weathers the storm and then works inside, where she grabs on to the body lock against the fence, looking to get the takedown. Ostovich-Berdon is able to work her way free and tag Honchak with a couple punches on the exit. Unfortunately, it doesn't deter Honchak, who swoops in for a nice single leg takedown but Ostovich-Berdon plays good defense and works her way back up almost immediately. Back on the feet, Ostovich-Berdon looks confident in her hands, tagging Honchak with a couple stiff punches. Honchak once again rushes forward looking for the takedown but Ostovich-Berdon defends very well. Ostovich-Berdon uncorks a spinning back fist that comes up short but she does manage to land one more stiff punch before the round ends.
Honchak is throwing more in the second round but she's not landing with many of her shots. Ostovich-Berdon counters and seems to hit her target with better power and accuracy but she can't keep Honchak from pushing forward for another takedown attempt. Honchak keeps her weight pressed on Ostovich-Berdon until she finally dips down with her hands locked where she dumps the Team Gaethje member on the mat for her best takedown of the fight. Honchak immediately transitions to take the back, where she looks to flatten Ostovich-Berdon out to apply a ground and pound attack. To her credit, Ostovich-Berdon continues to move, never allowing Honchak to lock in her hooks and she eventually slips free to get back to the feet. Ostovich-Berdon goes for an ill-advised heel kick and Honchak pounces by taking her back and getting her down to the ground. Honchak gets her hooks in this time and she's pounding away at Ostovich-Berdon, looking for the finish. Ostovich-Berdon continues to scramble, trying her best to wiggle free but she's eating a lot of punches with Honchak on her back. Honchak is absolutely relentless with her pressure but Ostovich-Berdon is able to defend until the end of the round
Barb Honchak def. Rachael Ostovich-Berdon by unanimous decision after two rounds
"I'm two wins into the tournament and that title feels obtainable," Honchak said. "It feels good. It feels like I'm getting close to what I'm here for."
Meanwhile a very emotional Ostovich-Berdon was obviously brokenhearted about the loss, but her coach Justin Gaethje explained that the reason it hurts so much is because she wanted the win so bad. That only means that she'll come back stronger the next time.
Once Honchak punched her ticket to the next round, it was time for the other quarterfinal fight this week as grappling specialist Montana Stewart took on upstart contender Nicco Montano, who pulled off the biggest upset of the season when she knocked off No. 3 seed Lauren Murphy in the opening round.
MONTANA STEWART VS. NICCO MONTANO
Stewart is throwing a large volume of strikes early but not connecting on much as Montano tries to find an opening for a counter shot. Stewart finally dips down and grabs a leg but Montano does a good job defending the takedown attempt before getting locked up in the clinch against the fence. The fighters eventually break away from the clinch and reset in the center, where Stewart lands her best punch of the fight with a nice overhand right that connects flush. Montano seems unfazed by the shot but she's staying on the outside and not engaging as much but instead focusing on her footwork to stay keep out of range. Montano gets caught in a quick exchange and Stewart uses the opening to look for another takedown but she can't force the fight to the ground. Montano defends very well while throwing a couple well-timed knees to the head whenever Stewart ducks her head down to try and grab for a leg. One of the shots landed opens a massive cut on Stewart's forehead as she begins bleeding rather badly down the side of her face. The round comes to an end and the cutman immediately comes over to clean up Stewart's face to get her ready for round two.
Montano is much more aggressive to start the second round as she connects with a hard body kick and follows up with another knee that appears to glance off Stewart's head. She doesn't do any damage but it definitely gets Stewart's attention. The fighters exchange a few more strikes and this time it's Montano who presses forward for a takedown. She gets the fight to the ground but gets caught in a guillotine choke from Stewart, who does her best to lock on the submission. Montano continues to work until she breaks free from the hold and she ends up in side control, where she tries to trap the arm in the crucifix position. Montanto finally raises up and starts firing down big shots from the top while Stewart tries to regain her guard. Montano is very tactical with her attacks, posturing up and then diving back down into the guard with big punches every time. Montano continues her assault and Stewart is just stuck on the bottom, although she does attempt to throw up some submissions to improve her position. Each time, Montano slips free and then she just punishes Stewart from the top. Stewart is finally able to scramble free from the bottom when Montano gives her a little room to breathe but it's short lived. Montano grabs on to her head on the way back up and she starts firing knees and punches again until the fighters separate. By the end of the round, Stewart is covered in her own blood after a punishing two rounds where she took a lot of damage courtesy of Montano.
Nicco Montano def. Montana Stewart by unanimous decision after two rounds
Once again, Montano keeps everybody on their toes as the No. 14 seed is now one win away from challenging for the first ever UFC women's flyweight championship. Montano won't have to wait long for her chance as she faces Honchak next week with the winner moving on to The Ultimate Fighter Finale in December.
In the other semifinal matchup, No. 1 overall seed Roxanne Modafferi will face off with No. 12 seed Sijara Eubanks in a battle between arguably the two strongest fighters thus far in the competition. Each fighter has dominated their first two opponents and now Modafferi and Eubanks square off with only one moving on to the finals to fight for the title.
First things first, as Honchak faces Montano in the semifinals next week as The Ultimate Fighter: A New World Champion enters the final two weeks of the season.