Last night, the first-ever finalists for a women’s bantamweight The Ultimate Fighter contract were decided when Jessica Rakoczy outstruck Raquel Pennington in the show’s semifinals.
Rakoczy will meet Julianna Pena at this weekend’s TUF 18 Finale from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Pena submitted Sarah Moras in a previous semifinal bout to advance to the contract bout. “The Venezuelan Vixen” has been on quite the run as of late, submitting both of her opponents on the show.
And they were no easy walkovers. Pena’s first opponent was experienced veteran Shayna Baszler, Team Rousey’s first pick. Many thought Baszler’s experience would win out but Pena proved them wrong by using her power striking to open up an opportunity to finish the fight via submission.
Against Moras, Pena had a chance to avenge a previous loss. She did so with another tapout, signifying that Team Tate’s first pick is here to stay. But she didn’t make too many friends in the process.
Many of the show’s participants took offense at Pena’s behavior, and the fact that she was steamrolling through competition probably didn’t help matters at all.
However, when Pena and Rakoczy appeared on “Fighting Words” courtesy of Fox Sports directly after Rakoczy’s victory, Pena insisted it was Rousey who had the attitude on the show:
“I think what bugged me the most about her would be her all-around pretentious attitude. I feel like she’s just a spoiled rich brat, and that’s what I think.”
Quite the strong words from Pena, who’s a close friend of Rousey’s archrival Tate. Pena drew the ire of her teammates when it appeared that Tate and her coaches were focusing much of their tutelage solely on Pena.
But let’s be honest. The whole point of the show centered on drama. Many thought that Rousey’s true persona was exposed through her intense will to win during filming. While she may have come off as brash and standoffish at times, ultimately it seemed like she was just passionate about coaching her team members to victory.
Tate, on the other hand, appeared to be the much more laid-back coach, playing pranks on Team Rousey throughout the season. Tate’s boyfriend Bryan Caraway insists that the show exposed Rousey for who she really is; the truth is probably somewhere in between.
Tate may want to enjoy the moment for now, because an angry Rousey is not something you want on your hands. The two bitter enemies will have their long-awaited rematch at UFC 168’s co-main event on December 28.
Whose side do you take in this whole back-and-forth? Were Pena and Team Tate the primadonnas, or was Rousey’s intense attitude and behavior the cause for criticism? It seemed like hardly a single person was willing to side with Pena on the show so that may be a telling sign. She may also just be sticking up for Tate by trashing Rousey.
Regardless of the drama, Pena will have another chance to prove her fighting skills against Rakoczy, this time on the grand stage of the TUF 18 Finale. Who is your pick to emerge victorious with the contract? If it is Pena, will she ever get the chance to back up her harsh words about “Rowdy?”