Nate Diaz cruised past Gray Maynard. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Nate Diaz bullied “The Bully.”
Diaz put away Gray Maynard with a short straight left and a savage volley of follow-up punches in UFC “The Ultimate Fighter 18” Finale main event on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Maynard (11-3-1, 9-3-1 UFC) succumbed to the unanswered blows 2:38 into round one, as he lost for the third time in four appearances.
Maynard scored with an early takedown but failed to contain “The Ultimate Fighter 5” winner on the canvas. Diaz (17-9, 12-7 UFC) returned to an upright position, zeroed in on the American Kickboxing Academy export and let his hands do the rest. The Cesar Gracie disciple shook Maynard with a quick left and swarmed. Quick, accurate punches kept “The Bully” on his heels, as Diaz refused to let him breathe. After an extended beating, referee Yves Lavigne had seen enough.
“I won,” Diaz said. “That’s what’s up.”
Pena Stops Rakoczy, Becomes First Female ‘Ultimate Fighter’ Winner
Sikjitsu representative Julianna Pena stopped Jessica Rakoczy with first-round punches from the mount to win “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 women’s bantamweight tournament. Pena (5-2, 1-0 UFC) closed the deal 4:59 into round one, as she became the first-ever female “Ultimate Fighter” winner and snapped a two-fight losing streak.
A decorated boxer with limited MMA experience, Rakoczy (1-4, 0-1 UFC) never hand a chance. Pena went to work after the second of her two takedowns. “The Venezuelan Vixen” softened Rakoczy with ground-and-pound, compromised her guard and eventually moved to full mount. For nearly two full minutes, she tore into Rakoczy with elbows and punches, forcing the stoppage with only a second remaining on the clock.
“Jessica is very tough. She hung in there. I can’t believe I got the finish with one second left, but I’m grateful to be in the UFC,” Pena said. “I’m very excited, and I can’t wait to put in more work. It’s just about to get started.”
Holdsworth Choke Submits Grant
Team Alpha Male’s Chris Holdsworth submitted Davey Grant with a second-round rear-naked choke to win “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 bantamweight tournament. Grant (8-2, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 2:10 into round two, his eight-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
Holdsworth (5-0, 1-0 UFC) wore down the Englishman with a relentless series of clinches. In the second round, he countered a standing guillotine choke with a takedown and ultimately settled in half guard. Holdsworth then transitioned to his opponent’s back, securing the position with a body triangle. Grant later moved to a kneeling position, opening the door for the fight-ending choke.
Holdsworth obliged, and the reluctant tapout came next.
“This has been a long six months,” Holdsworth said, “but hard work pays off.”
Duke Stays Undefeated, Decisions Morgan
The unbeaten Jessamyn Duke kept her perfect professional record intact, as she posted a unanimous decision over Championship Fighting Alliance alum Peggy Morgan in a featured women’s bantamweight matchup. Duke (3-0, 1-0 UFC) swept the scorecards by identical 30-27 marks.
Morgan (2-1, 0-1 UFC) was routinely beaten to the punch by the 27-year-old Kentucky native. Duke unleashed damaging punching combinations on her feet and utilized a dangerous guard on the ground. Morgan’s best chance at victory came and went in the third round. There, she transitioned to her adversary’s back after Duke tried to counter a takedown with an ill-advised headlock. Morgan’s attempts to secure a rear-naked choke proved unproductive, and the two bantamweights eventually returned to a standing position.
Pennington Halts Skid, Outpoints Modaferri
Invicta Fighting Championships alum Raquel Pennington threw the brakes on a two-fight losing streak, as she captured a unanimous verdict over Roxanne Modaferri in a women’s bantamweight showcase. All three judges scored it for Pennington (4-3, 1-0 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Modaferri (15-11, 0-1 UFC) lacked the necessary firepower, particularly in the standup department. Pennington leaned on heavy power punching, an effective sprawl and strong ground-and-pound throughout the 15-minute encounter. In the closing seconds of the third round, the 25-year-old Colorado native trapped Modaferri in a mounted guillotine choke and nearly finished it. Pennington settled for the decision, handing “The Happy Warrior” her sixth straight defeat.
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