Through the first six fights of The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will be Crowned, Team Pettis has been pitching a shutout. That all changed in episode seven when Team Melendez picked up its first win of the season.
Team Melendez, a Team Divided
The morale on the Gilbert Melendez-led team has been low. There’s been infighting and bickering. When Team Melendez’ first fighter pick, No. 3 seeded Tecia Torres, was pulled from the team and put on Team Pettis due to Justine Kish’s knee injury, she said, “At least I’m on a winning team now.”
“Now that we don’t have Tecia, we don’t have that many bodies to train with. Lisa Ellis hasn’t been on the mat. She’s been sitting out the whole time after her fight with an injury,” said Angela Magana. “Who knows what’s going on with Heather Jo Clark’s MRI. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her.”
“Me, Magana, Rose (Namajunas), Bec (Rawlings) and Emily (Kagan), we call ourselves the Skrapettes just because we’re being trained by the Skrap Pack and we’ve just been in there from day one,” said Team Melendez’ Angela Hill.
“We are the Skrapettes and they’re the Chumpettes,” said Magana
“Emily approached me and apparently there’s a little division in the team with Lisa and Heather. She wanted to give them Pettis jerseys and tell them to go to the other team,” said Coach Melendez. “Maybe the losing streak is creating some tension. Hopefully a win can turn things around.”
Heather Jo Clark Gets Confirmation of Torn ACL
Clark has been the center of a lot of the Team Melendez drama. She’s been accused of faking injuries and not being a good teammate. She was vindicated when an MRI revealed she did, in fact, have a torn ACL.
“I got news from the doctor that my ACL is torn, fully torn,” said Clark. “I’m really trying to stay positive and think maybe God has something else in store for me for this year.”
“It’s nice to kind of throw that at them and be like, oh yeah? I’m faking it, huh? There you go,” she added.
“I did apologize for saying that I thought it was fake,” said Magana. “But in life I’ve learned, would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? I’d rather be happy, so I’m quick to apologize lately.”
The Fight: Rose Namajunas vs. Alex Chambers
Namajunas quickly took the center of the octagon and used a variety of kicks to keep Chambers on the outside. Namajunas continues to pressure Chambers until Chambers landed a counter right hand that force Namajunas to back up. Chambers stuffed the first takedown attempt by her Team Melendez opponent, but Namajunas started beating her to the punch. Namajunas closed the distance behind a flurry of punches and a knee to the body and initiated the clinch along the cage. She tripped Chambers to the ground. Chambers fought her way back to her feet, but Namajunas stayed on her and slammed her back to the canvas. Namajunas worked to take Chambers’ back, but Chambers stood up and turned into her. They exchanged knees to the body inside the clinch before separating. Chambers changed levels and attempted to secure a takedown, but Namajunas defended the attempt and delivered knees to the midsection. Chambers stood and Namajunas worked to take her back. Chambers dropped to the ground and Namajunas quickly got into position for a rear-naked choke. She locked the choke in and Chambers tapped out with 23 seconds remaining in the round.
“I’m speechless. It’s hard to believe it even happened. I worked so hard, and it’s really emotional,” said Namajunas after getting Team Melendez their first win. “I’m just so emotional because of all the hard work I’ve put into it and not knowing if it’s working, or if I’m doing the right thing. Being away from home and just missing my family and all the (expletive) that I’ve been through. Dreams really do come true.”
“I don’t want to make excuses. Rose is a great fighter. She dominated me,” said Chambers after the loss. “She kept good range. She came to fight. She wanted it more than me today.”
Namajunas’ win swung matchmaking control over to Team Melendez, but the next match was set by default. Bec Rawlings faces former teammate Tecia Torres in the final preliminary round fight of the season in next week’s episode.