The second semifinalist emerges during the tenth episode of The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned as Team Pettis teammates Jessica Penne and Aisling Daly fought in the second quarter-final match up.
Conor McGregor Pays a Visit
“My teammate Aisling Daly is here, and I came here just to see her and tell her that we’re all behind her back home in Ireland and we’re all rooting for her to take that belt home,” said McGregor. “’To have an Irish female athlete competing in The Ultimate Fighter, it’s phenomenal. Aisling was there from the start of it all. There was four of us. There was me, Aisling and two other guys. That was the extent of our pro team at that time. Aisling was there from day one.”
When McGregor met the rest of Team Pettis, he could feel the intensity of the competition in the air.
“I don’t know if I could do something like this,” said McGregor about appearing on the reality series. “To walk in that room, there’s a tension, a weird tension in the air, something that I’ve never felt before. Anyone that can come into this competition and leave their family, leave their friends, leave their comfort zone, it shows a strong, strong mind.”
The Fight: Jessica Penne vs. Aisling Daly
Daly pressed forward as she always does while Penne moved laterally on the outside. Penne closed the distance and tied Daly up along the cage. They exchanged knees to the body and short punches in close quarters. Daly showcased her strength by muscling Penne around in the clinch and tossing her to the canvas twice. Penne flurried in the closing moments of the opening frame. It was a close round that could have gone either way.
The two exchanged punches in the early going of the second frame. Daly secured a takedown, but allowed Penne to get back to her feet. Penne used her reach advantage to land her jab often while Daly fired back with power shots. With just over a minute remaining in the round, Penne tripped Daly to the canvas. She advanced to the mount position and landed punches. Daly gave up her back and stood trying to shake Penne off. Penne drug her back to the ground and finished the round landing punches.
Through two rounds, it was an even fight. A Sudden Victory round was needed to determine the winner. Penne, who moved up a weight class to appear on the show, appeared to be the fresher fighter in the final round. Daly inched forward and initiated the clinch. Penne hip tossed her to the ground. Daly isolated a leg and used it to reverse the position. Penne briefly looked to secure a triangle choke, but scrambled to take Daly’s back instead. She spent most of the round in top position inflicting damage. Daly got to her feet in the closing seconds. She worked to take Penne down, but it was too little too late. The judges scored the fight for Penne by unanimous decision, advancing her to the semi-final round.
“That was a really tough fight. Ash is a really tough girl. I knew it was going to be hard to finish her. I’m glad it went my way,” said Penne after the win. “I was hoping for a submission win. I think I came close at least once. I didn’t get the finish, but I know it was a really good fight and I’m proud of myself.”
“All due is to Jessica. She was just the better woman tonight. I felt a little bit sluggish out there. I didn’t really get going the way I wanted to,” said Daly following the loss. “Against somebody as tough and technical as Jessica, you can’t turn up with your A-game at home. It’s been a tough few weeks, but I”m going to come back even better. I’m sorry to everybody at home that I didn’t bring it home like we all wanted.”
In next week’s episode, Penne will find out who she faces next as top seeded Carla Esparza takes on No. 3-seed Tecia Torres. The last Team Melendez fighter in the competition, Rose Namajunas takes on Joanne Calderwood for the final slot in the semifinals.