The final episode of The Ultimate Fighter 26 aired Wednesday night — and now we know who’s in the finale!
The Ultimate Fighter 26 is the second season of TUF to help launch a division, following TUF 20 (a springboard for women’s strawweights). The season has been the best in recent years for the reality show. Gone have been hair-brained antics, drama, and coaches butting heads. Instead, two professionals (Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje) showed up to lead a group of professional female fighters, pretty much all of whom conducted themselves like the pros they are. As they should, with a belt on the line, but when it comes to TUF, sanity is often scarce.
Even without the drama (which was not missed it the least), it made for compelling TV. The fights were good, a belt was on the line, and we saw what mattered. The biggest feud came when Lauren Murphy found herself at odds with coach Eddie Alvarez. For that to be the biggest drama to come from the season was a breath of fresh air. A dispute with a coach is understandable. Nor did it derail the season.
Roxanne Modafferi and Barb Honchak were ranked 1 and 2 overall for the season, respectively, and not surprisingly, both made it to the semi-finals. However, with Honchak eliminated by Nicco Montaño in last week’s episode, it was ‘The Happy Warrior’ representing the “old guard” in TUF 26. Then, another upset: in the final episode of the season, airing Wednesday night, Sijara Eubanks earned a unanimous decision win over Modafferi in a hard fought bout that saw both women looking to finish the other.
And there you have it: Friday’s Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale will be headlined by relative unknowns Nicco Montaño and Sijara Eubanks, with the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight championship on the line. The division feels as if it’s wide open at the moment, and a number of contenders are likely to emerge, both from this season of TUF (don’t count Honchak and Modafferi out just yet), and from other weight classes.
Montano (3-2) is coming off a loss prior to TUF 26 to Julia Avila, and has spent most of her career under the KOTC banner. Eubanks (2-2), meanwhile, is also coming off a loss outside the show, to Aspen Ladd in Invicta.
The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale goes down live Friday December 1 at the Park Theater in Las Vegas, NV.