Episode four of “The Ultimate Fighter 18” begins with the customary recap of last week’s happenings, and we are reminded that Ronda Rousey’s Jessica Rakoczy will square off against Miesha Tate’s Roxanne Modafferi.
Rakoczy suffered a separated acromioclavicular joint in her elimination fight, and so she will enter the bout nursing a banged-up shoulder. Though irritated that Tate selected another injured fighter, Rousey nevertheless has confidence that her boxing specialist will come away with the win.
In the hallway by the locker rooms, Rousey’s assistant coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, is eyeballing Tate’s guest coach, UFC veteran Dennis Hallman. “Superman” is not one to put up with such a slight, and so Hallman and Tarverdyan proceed to posture and talk smack before deciding to settle their issue -- whatever it is -- in the nearby cage.
Rousey responds by having Tarverdyan pulled back into the hall and then stepping right into Hallman’s face. The teams then square off in the hallway with UFC President Dana White mediating the verbal conflict. The heat between the squads dates back to Bryan Caraway’s ill-conceived Twitter post directed at Rousey, in which he threatened to knock her teeth down her throat. Though the threat is, at this point, more than one year old, that is little consolation to Tarverdyan.
During Team Tate’s workout session, the men and women begin to train against each other for the first time. Raquel Pennington and Sarah Moras appear to get a lot out of it, as they have been wanting to go harder against their female counterparts.
Back at the house, Rakoczy has assumed the role of mother, taking care of much of the cleaning and tidy work. Meanwhile, Modafferi is tutoring former opponent Shayna Baszler in Japanese. The veteran Modafferi has endeared herself to her castmates by living up to her “Happy Warrior” nickname. The longtime resident of Japan details her history with martial arts, going from taekwondo to judo to Brazilian jiu-jitsu before deciding to fight professionally.
Before bed, Rakoczy, 36, recounts the difficulties she endured with an abusive stepfather, moving out at 15 and then suffering the death of her mother soon after. Rakoczy then found some measure of peace in the boxing ring and went on to win multiple world titles. As a skilled puncher, Rakoczy is obviously hoping to keep the ground-savvy Modafferi at distance.
Both fighters make weight and go through their final pre-fight preparations. Rakoczy braids her hair into cornrows, while Rakoczy uses leftover toilet paper rolls to constructs a new friend named Plato. Rakoczy admits that she misses her son, but she has also found relief in only worrying about her training and winning fights. Modafferi, meanwhile, receives a handwritten letter of encouragement from teammate Jessica Pena that brings her to tears.
Rakoczy backs Modafferi up with a right hand to start their fight, but Tate’s charge soon scores with a trip. Modafferi briefly struggles with Rakoczy’s length from the bottom but quickly passes to side control. The boxer bucks and tries to stand, and Modafferi looks to take her back. Rakoczy escapes and lands in top control, pulling out of an armbar attempt before rolling away and regaining her vertical base. However, Modafferi hits another outside trip and lands in side control to end the round.
A fatigued Modafferi storms forward like a bat out of hell to start the second round, but Rakoczy drops her with a gorgeous counter left hook. Tate’s fighter pops right back up, however, and continues to drive ahead, but she is floored once again with a snapping left hook. Modafferi grabs a desperation single-leg attempt, but the referee stops the action and sternly warns Rakoczy for repeatedly grabbing the fence. The action resumes, and Modafferi gets the takedown. She is immediately reversed, however, and Rakoczy slams her from guard. A half-conscious Modafferi tries to sit up but eats a vicious left hook that spells the beginning of the end. Rakoczy lands several more big shots, and the fight is stopped.
An emotional Modafferi is consoled, first by Rakoczy and then by Baszler. As expected, she handles her defeat graciously and vows to one day “perfect her technique.” Team Rousey now has control of the next fight pick, and “Rowdy” selects David Grant to take on Team Tate’s Louis Fisette.