When the list of female contestants competing on “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate” was revealed there were many names that fans recognized.
You had veterans like Shayna Baszler, Roxanne Modafferi and Tara LaRosa. You also had hot prospects like Jessamyn Duke, Raquel Pennington and Sarah Moras.
Yet out of all of the stars and up-and-comers that comprised the female portion of the cast, there were two fighters who were both dark horses in the tournament: Julianna “The Venezulean Vixen” Pena and Jessica Rakoczy.
These are two fighters who probably should not have even been in the same octagon as these other stars. Now that are making history by becoming the first two combatants to compete in the finals of “TUF.”
Looking at Pena, fans probably thought she was an up-and-comer from the Northwest and maybe overlooked the fact that she trains at Sikjitsu, in Spokane, Wash., which is the same gym as UFC star Sam Sicilia and “TUF 15“ winner Mike Chiesa. During the show she certainly turned heads after she beat Baszler and Moras to make it to the finals.
While Pena has embraced the token “TUF” contestant who the other fighters don’t like, you have to admit that she has come leaps and bounds since she entered the tournament.
And then there is Rakoczy, who came into the competition with a 1-3 MMA record. Yes, Rakoczy is an accomplished professional boxer, but there seems to be that stigma that practitioners of the Sweet Science are one-dimensional and have little to no chance of making it in MMA.
Yet it is because of Rakoczy’s skill, the strides she made in competition and her heart that helped her defeat Modafferi and Pennington to make it to the last round of the tournament.
Let us not forget that both fighters were helped and encouraged by their teammates and coaches throughout the season.
Two unknown fighters making it to the big finale. Isn’t that what the whole “Anything can happen in MMA” saying is about? Two fighters who despite not having the experience or recognition of the other contestants, made it to the big show and have a chance to make history.
Who do you think will become the first female fighter to be crowned “The Ultimate Fighter”? Answer with a comment below, send a tweet to @alstover or email [email protected]