Jessica Penne and Randa Markos made it all the way to the semifinals of The Ultimate Fighter 20 strawweight tournament, but each fell short of making it into the title fight. So they entered their main-card opening bout at the TUF 20 Finale in Las Vegas on Saturday night fighting for the consolation prize.
Markos was seeded No. 14 at the opening of the tournament, while Penne was No. 4. But Markos had already upset Tecia Torres and Felice Herrig, who were third and sixth respectively, during the season, so she was certainly ready to try and do it again… and she nearly did.
Penne landed a solid hip toss early in the fight. But once she regained her feet, Markos started to land effectively with her boxing. As Penne tried to take her out of her element with kicks, Markos did a good job countering, particularly with a solid right hand that often found its mark.
The opening round ended up on the mat for the latter part with Markos fending off some Penne submission attempts and exchanging position. Somewhere along the way, Markos suffered a gash on her right eyelid, but her cutman did a good job keeping it from becoming much of a factor in the fight.
Markos had a very good second round, using her boxing to take Penne out of her element. Much of her striking was done in one-off attempts, keeping her from doing too much damage. She caught a Penne kick late in the round and drove her opponent to the mat, but Penne reversed and worked her ground-and-pound attack.
Round three started off with some solid exchanges on the feet, with Markos starting to run away with the round. That was until Penne drove her to her back again. This time, Penne did much more damage than earlier, finding a solid position from half guard to unload her ground and pound.
Penne switched it up to a rear naked choke that looked like it might force Markos to tap, but the Canadian survived the attempt and even gained a reverse triangle position in the waning moments.
A former 105-pound fighter, Penne is now proving that she can hang with the ladies at 115 pounds, earning a split decision victory over Markos.
“I just had to believe in myself and keep going,” she said after the fight. “It’s a little bit of an adjustment period I’m going through.”
(Follow @KenPishna on Twitter)