'The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters' Episode 10 recap

Episode 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters” opens with controversial Team Gastelum team member Maurice Green starting his day with a few cigarettes to help himself relax. He knows the negative impacts smoking has on fighting career but said he’s been doing it for a long time.

Team Gastelum’s Justin Frazier talks to Greene about his struggles in the competition that have included multiple drunken confrontations with his fellow cast members. Greene breaks down and becomes emotional over his behavior throughout the competition and said it’s been a much more difficult process than anticipated.

Greene visits The Ultimate Fighter Gym, where he meets with head coach Kelvin Gastelum and some of the assistant coaching staff. Coach Gastelum believes Greene has no shortage of potential and could make the heavyweight tournament final, but says he’s not pleased with how the fighter has conducted himself and urges him to get back on track.

The Team Gastelum coaching staff then force Greene to do some “childish” training exercises, but believe they will be effective in adjusting Greene’s mindset for the final stretch of the competition.

Focus shifts to Team Whittaker’s Julija Stoliarenko, who meets Team Gastelum’s Pannie Kianzad in the first women’s featherweight semifinal matchup later in the episode.

Stoliarenko says she is very confident in the matchup because she’s been watching Kianzad fight under the Invicta FC banner multiple times and is quite familiar with her style. Head coach Robert Whittaker believes it’s a competitive fight on paper but says Stoliarenko offensive pressure is going to be key in overwhelming her opponent.

Later, the athletes from both teams are freed from the typical confines of the competition and taken to a local water park in Las Vegas for some fun in the sun. Afterward, all the athletes visit a local sushi restaurant where they indulge in a massive meal.

At the official weigh-in, Stoliarenko (145 pounds) and Kianzad (145 pounds) make the women’s featherweight limit, and their semifinal matchup is set. A tense staredown between athletes follows.

The next day, Stoliarenko and Kianzad return to the TUF Gym for their fight. They finalize preparations with the coaches in the locker room before heading to the octagon to compete.

TEAM WHITTAKER’S JULIJA STOLIARENKO (4-2-1) VS. TEAM GASTELUM’S PANNIE KIANZAD (9-3)

Round 1 – Stoliarenko opens with a hard inside leg kick. She follows with another shortly after. Kianzad tags her with a counter left hook, but Stoliarenko answers with another kick. Stoliarenko shoots a terrible takedown and Kianzad easily sidesteps it. Stoliarenko continues to pound the inside leg of her opponent while Kianzad is finding a consistent home for her counters. Kianzad lands a leg kick of her own and is looking comfortable in the striking exchanges. Moments after, she eats a short left hook from Stoliarenko. Kianzad is now the one landing the more powerful leg kicks and Stoliarenko is struggling to get her offense going. Stoliarenko steps inside with a combination before she changes levels and shoots for a takedown with just over a minute left. Kianzad denies the entry but is forced to defend against the fence. She lands a slick elbow over the top on Stoliarenko, who adjusts and eventually circles out of the clinch. Kianzad lands a left hand that snaps Stoliarenko back in what’s arguably the most significant strike of the round.

Round 2 – Stoliarenko goes back to her leg kicks to begin the round, but Kianzad is ready to answer with her own. Stoliarenko pops her opponent with the jab, and Kianzad tries to answer by rushing in with multi-strike combinations. He range is just off the mark, though, and Stoliarenko is smiling every time a clean shot comes close. Kianzad is getting hit as she moves inside, but she won’t relent with her pressure game. Kianzad comes in with a huge left hook that lands hard on the chin, and Stoliarenko goes down to a knee. She quickly pops up and decides to shoot for a takedown. Kianzad, who is bleeding out of the left side of her face, stops the takedown attempt and gets back into striking range. Kianzad comes over the top with a nice punch, followed by another one. Stoliarenko shoots for another takedown, but Kianzad isn’t having it. She lands another high left hand, and Stoliarenko is beginning to take a lot of punches to the face, and it’s stagnating her offense. She ducks under another one of Kianzad’s punches in hopes of a takedown but once again fails to finish it. Kianzad is loading up with heavy punches and wobbles Stoliarenko with a combination. Kianzad just misses with a potentially devastating head kick but closes out the round by continuing to find a phone for her punches.

Round 3 – Stoliarenko goes for a high kick to begin the round, but Kianzad avoids it before stepping in with a nice punch. Both women are wearing the damage of the fight, but Kianzad is determined to keep moving forward and put pressure on her opponent. Stoliarenko is circling and trying to counter, but Kianzad has the better sense of range, and it’s causing all sorts of problems for Stoliarenko. Kianzad is bobbing and weaving to the inside and tagging Stoliarenko with more punches. There’s not a ton on them so deep in the fight. Stoliarenko shoots for another takedown, but Kianzad shuts it down, then lands a knee and a punch from the clinch. Kianzad lands another big left hand off a failed takedown attempt, and she is very much in the groove against a frustrated Stoliarenko, who is trying to do whatever she can to alter the momentum of the contest. Kianzad lands a slapping left hand with about one minute remaining and follows up with a right over the top. Stoliarenko makes one final attempt to drag the fight to the mat, but Kianzad makes her pay with even more punches before the final bell.

Pannie Kianzad def. Julija Stoliarenko via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

“I knew she wanted to take me down, but I am in way better condition and I was ready for it,” Kianzad says of her performance. “I wanted to keep the fight standing. My nose was bleeding, but for me it is just one of those things when it starts bleeding it just doesn’t stop! But I knew she couldn’t hang with me standing-wise. I am so proud of Team Kelvin and I love everything about training with them. I am going to give the rest of training my all and do everything in my power to be the next Ultimate Fighter.”

With the victory, Kianzad becomes the first to advance to the women’s featherweight final, where she will face the winner of Macy Chiasson vs. Leah Letson.

Once the aftermath of Kianzad vs. Stoliarenko wraps up, the scene is set for the next tournament semifinal, this time in the heavyweight bracket. Team Whittaker’s Juan Francisco Espino Diepa meets Team Gastelum’s Greene.

Also see:

Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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