With Chris Holdsworth moving on to the finals at the expense of Michael Wooten, it’s time for the 1st of 2 teammate vs. teammate bouts to take place. Kelowna, BC’s Sarah Moras will scrap with Julianna Pena in a battle of Team Tate women, as the drama builds due to favoritism amongst the coaching staff. Who will break down? Who will win? Who will completely alienate themselves from the rest of their team? Let’s find out.
The episode starts off at the UFC Training Center for a Team Tate practice. Coach Miesha declares there’s an “odd dynamic” surrounding the team as they lead up to the fight between Julianna Pena and Sarah Moras as different. She then describes the first time that Moras fought Pena, which resulted in the doctor’s stopping the bout after “Cheesecake” hyper-extended Julianna’s arm beyond the point of usability. She notes that “The Venezuelan Vixen” is looking to avenge the loss, while Moras is looking to be win the competition. We then see Tate working on armbar defense with Pena, while Brian Caraway is merely helping Moras stretch. Moras comments that it feels like her coaches have favored Pena from the start, noting the prior friendship between Tate and Julianna. The Canadian says she feels out of the loop and upset, but saw this situation coming. In fact, it all came to a head at this training session, where it turns out that she broke down due to the stress. One of Tate’s assistant coaches relays the information to Miesha, who is then filled in on the situation by Raquel Pennington. Coaches and fighters join Moras in the sauna to hear her out and try and console her, as she details the rush of emotions going through her head. We cut to Moras after the training session, who explains herself further, still emotionally raw. Coach “Cupcake” then makes the smart decision and recuses herself, assigning assistant coaches Ricky Lundell and Jack to Moras, and two others to Pena and not providing training assistance to either fighter. She describes it to the camera as the best decision, as her friend Julianna is “very paranoid,” and that “to have her opponent in, like, the same room is her worst nightmare.” Tate breaks the news to her friend, who reacts with a bit of unnecessary shock. Pena explains that she doesn’t like the idea of splitting coaches, as she gets her feelings hurt easily, and selfishly admits to wanting all the coaches on her side. We cut to Sarah and Julianna stuck in an ice bath together, with Pena trying to wrangle out a deal to get her time with all the coaches by taking mornings and Moras taking nights. “Cheesecake” was not interested, preferring the current coaching arrangement, forcing Pena to reluctantly agree. We end with Tate talking about learning on the job as a coach, since it’s not what she does professionally, and that emotions are running higher due to the amount of women she’s working with.
Back at the house, Sarah Moras is chilling outside with nearly everybody, recounting her first fight with Julianna. She describes getting top-side crucifix in the first round, and dropping nearly 3 dozen elbows on Pena’s face. We jump inside, where Julianna is confiding in Roxy Modafferi about how she feels like everybody in the house hates her, and that she doesn’t know what she’s done wrong. We jump to commentary from Josh Hill, who agrees with that statement, saying that nobody really likes Pena, and that she becomes increasingly annoying over time. Back outside, Moras talks about the second round, where Pena stuffed her takedown and “Cheesecake” ended up then catching an armbar from guard, eliciting a number of “pops” from “The Venezuelan Vixen’s” elbow, but that no tap was forthcoming. Back in the house, Julianna tells Roxy that she doesn’t know what she’s doing that’s upsetting people, leading to a word from Anthony Gutierrez. He discusses how the “Happy Warrior” is the only one who will socialize with the “coach’s pet,” but that he has heard ever-smiling Modafferi doesn’t have good things to say about her otherwise. “If Roxanne is saying something bad about you, then you know you’ve failed at life,” he says. We return outside where Sarah details the end of the fight, with Pena unable to get up, her arm bent in an unnatural way as the doctor stops the bout. Back to Julianna, who surmises that the reason everybody is mean to her is because they don’t want to make their girlfriends upset, to which Modafferi responds with an, “I don’t know about that…” Pena gets a cutaway, saying that she assumes the way people are in the house is how they are in real life, which means that the house is full of nasty people. While Pena continues to grumble to Roxy, the rest of the crew is squarely on the side of “Cheesecake” as we end the segment.
We return to the UFC Training Center for another session with Team Tate. We see Miesha guiding Sarah Moras through a sequence at one end of the gym, which causes excessive annoyance on the part of Julianna Pena, leading to a bout of profanity from the fighter. We cut to Bryan Caraway, who says that while Julianna is a talented fighter, she’s also severely paranoid and wants the entire coaching staff in her corner. We jump back, and see Miesha countering Pena’s complaints with the fact that she’s done 5 one-on-one training sessions with “The Venezuelan Vixen” throughout the season to date, but this is the only one she’s done with Moras.
We get another talking head segment with Sarah Moras, discussing her training situation. She’s working with assistant coaches Ricky Lundell and Jack, while Pena gets Bryan Caraway and Shane. She feels that her opponent knows her gameplan, which is getting to the ground and going for the armbar if it becomes available, but will be unable to defend against it. Moras is confident going into this fight, feeling that she is the more skilled fighter. After seeing a bit of training, working on half-guard situations, we cut to Ricky Lundell, who details the gameplan. He says that the keys to the fight are maintaining distance, changing levels, getting takedowns, and then submissions. He praises “Cheesecake’s” armlocks, and notes she’s beaten Pena before. He mentions that at this point in the competition, there aren’t many secrets between training partners, and that being able to impose your game on the opponent anyways is the trick. After another shot of training, with Moras accidentally catching partner Roxy Modafferi with an elbow, we jump to “The Happy Warrior,” who notes that her lesson that day was to block when Sarah goes for an elbow. The inadvertent strike was enough to give Roxy a black eye, which Moras says did not leave people happy with her.
Back at the house, Coach Ronda shows up again with a bag of supplies, and a desire to lighten the mood by giving everybody something different to focus on. Peggy Morgan describes the activity as “turning everybody’s shirts into ‘Ronda’ shirts.” Even some of the Team Tate women get in on the fun, with Sarah Moras saying she’ll sell her “Ronda-fied” shirt on E-Bay when she gets home so that she won’t have to work. Roxanne Modafferi, who is conservative by nature, and Julianna Pena, who has alienated herself from the rest of the house, are the only ones sitting outside, not getting in on the fun. Pena claims that she did not get involved due to a combination of fatigue, not knowing which shirt she would want cut up, and not knowing if Rousey would do it for her. After watching “Rowdy” work her magic on a shirt for Raquel Pennington, we jump to her outside, saying with a laugh, “I have helped kind of mold everybody physically, mentally, but not fashionably. I just want to affect them in every way, I guess,” and, “Even if they’re not on my team, they’re still going to be wearing one of my shirts!”
The next morning, we see Julianna and Roxy at the breakfast table. Pena wants to know what Modafferi and Moras were working on, a question that Roxanne diplomatically declined to answer. “The Happy Warrior” explains that she has been put into a position of trust as Sarah’s training partner, and in the same way she doesn’t discuss training with the others in the Team Rousey Room, she doesn’t feel comfortable relaying information on Moras’ sessions. Julianna seems a little incredulous, even as Roxanne tells her that she’s rooting for her. Pena then insults Modafferi, calling her actions “bougie” (not that Roxanne is in anyways an elitist or a snob) and claiming she’s not longer on “Team Vixen.” Modafferi whispers to her, “I am.” and the two laugh it off. Moving upstairs, we see Julianna blowdrying her hair while Raquel Pennington is trying to sleep. We cut to “Rocky,” who talks about the frustration caused every morning when she is roused from her sleep by the various sounds of “The Venezuelan Vixen’s” unending morning routine, ranging from running a blowdryer to shaking supplement pill bottles. Back in the room, Pena doesn’t take Pennington’s complaints seriously, thinking of them as a joke even as her teammate drops down from her bunk and demonstrates. In a cutaway, Pena blames it on sharing the smallest room in the house, and then on Pennington for being a night owl. She then accuses Raquel, and others, of being “haters” as she deflects the blame and claims that everybody else is at fault. Cut back to Pena, who says that all Pennington does is run her mouth and then complain that the Team Tate top pick is trying to hog all the camera time. The Venezuelan-American then says – while beginning to do a diva-esque head bob – that it’s starting to feel like the movie “Mean Girls” and saying that the house is nothing but brats she doesn’t want to hang out with. In the room, Pennington accuses Pena of playing the victim a lot, which Pena again denies, claiming she would admit it if that was the case. Jumping back to “Talking Head” Julianna, she says that everybody in the house is pushing her buttons, claims that she feels like a caged animal, and quotes the movie Dirty Dancing (saying, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”) before stating that she’s about to lash out at everybody. We return to the room one last time, with Raquel telling Pena she needs a “chill pill,” to which Julianna responds that she’s calm. In one last she-said/she-said cutaway, Raquel states that her teammate is a headcase, while Pena just makes exasperated, dramatic noises and calls the women of the house “dumb broads.”
It’s time for Julianna’s training session, and we hear her talking about how she feels her team doubting her again. She also claims that Sarah Moras views her as a threat because she wouldn’t tap in their first fight, instead opting to suffer so much damage to her arm that the doctor stopped the fight. She wishes that she had not lost that first bout, and it’s her goal to fix her mistakes. Bryan Caraway has Pena working on her guillotine chokes from the sprawl with Roxanne Modafferi, and Julianna continues her narration, stating that they’re also working on armbar and takedown defense. We cut to Caraway, who describes Pena’s biggest problems as negativity and self-doubt. He calls her an amazing athlete, and feels that if her mental blocks can be removed, she can beat anybody. Roxanne offers the same words of encouragement to Julianna as the segment ends.
At the weight-ins, Moras comes in at 136 lbs., as Jessamyn Duke details the first clash between the Canadian and the house pariah, describing it as a “steamrolling,” and hoping that the second fight will be more of the same. As Julianna hits her mark at 135 lbs., Louis Fisette does not like her chances, and describes her padwork as something more akin to flailing than anything else. He compliments her heart, but feels that his fellow Canuck will beat “The Vixen” down. Coach Rousey gives her assessment, saying that Julianna has the ability to rise to the occassion, as shown in her first preliminary fight, but that Sarah broke her arm the first time they fought. Dana White is looking forward to the bout, saying that it will be entertaining, so long as Pena keeps her head about her.
It’s Fight Day Eve at the TUF house, and Miesha Tate has arrived with a basket-full of puppies to lighten the mood. She makes a point to check in with Julianna, who has cut herself off from the rest of the house, claiming the other women are “mean girls.” We jump to Tate outside the house, who claims that Julianna is “on a different path” and has different mindset than everybody else there, but believes she’s a good person deep down. Back in the Team Tate Ladies’ room, Pena claims she hasn’t done anything but keep to herself, and that she even does everybody’s dishes while they talk about her behind her back. Tate agrees about the chatter, and throws her team under a bus for blaming the coaching staff for their training issues instead of looking at themselves. She also informs Pena that a couple of team members accused her of favoring her friend, and explains that it is the reason she pulled back for this fight so as to appear unbiased. Tate then tells Julianna that she and Holdsworth are the hardest workers on the team, and that Pena gets the most attention because she’s always asking to be shown things, while others work on the treadmills. Julianna claims that it’s not her fault that she’s a sponge, and wants to learn as much as she can. Julianna claims that she has stayed loyal to the team while the other members have strayed. The segment ends with the pair sharing a hug.
It’s Fight Day, and downstairs, Shayna Baszler tells Sarah Moras that the hope of the galaxy rests on her shoulders. Julianna Pena gets a cutaway, talking about how the rest of the house considering her to be a “chump fighter” is hurting her feelings, but that she can’t worry about that. Moras feels that there is added pressure on her to defeat her teammate, but that she will hopefully do it anyways. Coach Miesha runs down each fighter’s gameplan, and then says that she can not pick a winner, but can only hope they both bring their best. The pre-fight segment ends with Pena telling the group in her dressing room that Sarah Moras smells, and asked her to put on deodorant before this fight. As she makes her way to the cage, “Cheesecake’s” last words are that while she prefers to fight without emotion, she will hit her opponent with some extra elbows, as her housemates have requested. Pena’s last words detail her desire to win the fight, claiming that a loss would end her.
Sarah Moras (Team Tate) vs. Julianna Pena (Team Tate)
Round 1 of this 3 round fight begins with Sarah Moras landing a pair of leg kicks before Julianna Pena lurches forward with a wild barrage of strikes. Sarah is landing the kicks she throws, and Pena is connecting with punches. Pena is landing more punches, and manages to stifle a lateral drop from a clinch and land on top in Moras’ guard. “Cheesecake” is active off her back, working her hips for position and landing sharp elbows while Pena basically lays on top of her. “The Venezuelan Vixen” eventually works for a pass, but is stymied by a pair of upkicks from the Canadian and backs of. Moras stays on the ground and fires off thrust kicks at the Venezuelan-American’s knee before Julianna dives back into her guard. Sarah remains active off her back as the house pariah lands a couple of punches before posturing down. The BC native continues to land shots from the bottom, before working a couple of different rubber guards. Pena lands a couple more shots, but Moras is outworking her 3 shots to 1 from her back. The action goes up against the cage, with Moras working for a triangle choke. The attempt is unsuccessful, and Pena passes to half-guard with 2:36 left in the round. She is able to land a pair of elbows, but Sarah re-guards and locks her down with an overhook. More elbows from the Canadian, who continues to break her American foe’s posture any time she rises up. “Cheesecake” still has the overhook, and appears to be working for an armbar like the one Ivan Menjivar hit on Azamat Gashimov back at UFC 154. The action returns to the side of the cage, and Sarah tries to wall walk to force a sweep, but Pena is able to prevent it, and even lands a couple of punches before backing off. Moras continues to attack Julianna’s knee with kicks while on her side, only to have “The Venezuelan Vixen” dive back in with wild punches and soon pass to side control. The Toshido MMA product continues to try and wall-walk to escape as Pena starts to finally land some sustained ground and pound. Sarah manages to escape to turtle position, but Coach Miesha’s favourite is still on top, landing punches as the round ends. While Moras was the far more active fighter off of her back, Julianna’s time on top and late-round flurry likely had the judges give it to her 10-9. It was close, but personally, I’d still give it to Moras.
Both women are breathing hard between rounds, as Caraway has to work to calm Pena down and the other fighter cheer on Moras. The second round begins like the first, with leg kicks from Sarah and wild punches from Julianna. “Cheesecake” makes the wise decision to avoid a sustained firefight, but Pena keeps driving and fighting forward. They clinch against the cage, Pena in control, but Moras landing punches and knees. The wall’n'stall is broken at 1:16, as Sarah managed to push Sikjitsu-trained opponent back, only to get tripped back to the mat. Moras nearly takes the back, but Pena wins the scramble and gets to side control. The Canadian fighter catches an inverted triangle from the bottom, but Pena slips out, breathing heavy. Sarah uses the cage to wall-walk into turtle, but is rolled right back into half-guard. Pena is starting to hit some ground’n'pound, but is still mostly content to lay on top of her opponent. Moras makes her pay with a series of elbows, then uses the cage to re-guard and hit a pair of upkicks before Pena passes back into side control, still eating elbows. After eating some elbows, Moras once again manages to roll to turtle as Ricky Lundell calls for her to stand up and shoot. We see blood starting to drip down from “Cheesecake’s” face as Pena works for a guillotine, getting the arm around the neck and dropping back into guard and forcing the tap at 3:31.
Julianna Pena def. Sarah Moras via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 3:31 of Round 2
Both Dana White and Miesha Tate praise Pena’s effort in the cage, with Tate saying that Pena defied Sarah Moras’ expectations and showed how she has developed into a more rounded fighter. Tate continues to heap praise on to her friend, saying that she is the hardest working girl on the team. After we see the half-hearted post-fight hug between Pena and Moras, we turn to Raquel Pennington, who says that it was not the same Sarah that they were used to seeing in that cage, and congratulating Julianna for the win. After leaving the cage, a tearful Modafferi walked up and embraced Pena, congratulating her on winning with the move they’d been working on. Moras, on leaving the cage, walked up to the other castmates, in tears, and apologized to them as she and Raquel hugged it out. Sarah, after the scene, says that she wasn’t herself in the cage, but that Pena got her. She’s “pissed off” at herself for not winning the fight. She goes up to Dana White and apologizes to him, saying she can perform better than she did on this night, and that she hopes he’ll bring her back. White, for his part, handles the situation in a comforting manner, telling her not to worry and to go get fixed up. Pena is also still caught up in the emotion of the moment, hugging the cutman who helps her remove her wraps. She then talks about believing in herself, how she said she “would not let her take my baby,” and she’s really happy to have gotten the victory. Pena states that her work is not over, and that this is the first day of the rest of her life.
The show ends in the Team Rousey locker room, with Ronda talking about how she can not pick between her two battling team members, Anthony Gutierrez and David Grant, as they prepare for the next episode.
Well, that was not the result I expected. As much as I dislike Julianna Pena, she has miles of heart, and was able to use it to get another win. I wouldn’t want to train with her, though. When a teammate is preparing for a fight, proper etiquette dictates that the training is focused on that person until after their fight. That’s how it’s been in the places where I’ve trained, anyways. A bad teammate will monopolize a coach’s time, even when they know other people have fight’s coming up. It’s up to a coach to realize this and nip the behavior in the bud, though, otherwise accusations of favoritism will most certainly begin to run rampant. Miesha Tate ignored this, and then threw her team under a bus in favor of her friend. Still, despite all the drama, Julianna Pena earned her win. Next week we get another teammate vs. teammate battle, so we’ll get to see how Ronda Rousey handles the situation when David Grant and Anthony Gutierrez square off. So, with that out of the way, let’s look at the standings.
Team Tate (4-4, 2-1)
- Julianna Pena (2-0)
Sarah Moras (1-1)
- Raquel Pennington (1-0)
Roxanne Modafferi (0-1)
Cody Bollinger (0-1)*
- Chris Holdsworth (2-0)
Josh Hill (0-1)
Louis Fisette (0-1)
Team Rousey (4-4, 0-1)
Shayna Baszler (0-1)
Jessamyn Duke (0-1)
Peggy Morgan (0-1)
- Jessica Rakoczy (1-0)
Chris Beal (0-1)
- David Grant (1-0)
- Anthony Gutierrez (1-0)
Michael Wootten (1-1)