Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Eduardo Perez took care of business against the oldest competitor in the history of The Ultimate Fighter.
Team Amanda Nunes’ No. 1 pick showed off his all-around game against a gutsy Bobby Maximus, eventually putting him away with fierce ground-and-pound before the end of Round 1.
Early on, Maximus controlled the larger Perez with his wrestling (there was a near 30-pound weight difference with the 6-foot-5 Perez coming in at the heavyweight limit of 266 pounds and Maximus coming in at 237 pounds) and landed plenty of ground strikes of his own, but Perez stayed patient and worked his way back to the feet until he could create separation. Perez sliced Maximus up with his jab and later reversed a takedown attempt before going to work with heavy strikes from top position. Referee Mike Beltran gave Maximus time to fight back, but had to wave off the bout at the 3:58 mark.
It was an impressive performance for Perez (4-1), an American Kickboxing Academy product that is one of the favorites to win the TUF 30 heavyweight tournament. He advances to the semifinals with the win.
At 43, Maximus (5-4)* set a record as the oldest fighter ever to appear on TUF. The Canadian fighter expressed frustration following the loss, his first fight since 2009. However, in an interview conducted prior to this week’s episode, Maximus told MMA Fighting that he was satisfied with his experience on the show and that one of his goals was simply to prove that he could still compete at the UFC level. He went 1-2 in his first stint with the promotion back in 2006, scoring a first-round submission win over Kris Rotharmel.
With the loss, Julianna Peña’s team sees their lead in the series drop to 3-2. Peña selected her No. 2 flyweight pick Juliana Miller (2-1) to fight Team Nunes’ No. 1 pick, Claire Guthrie (3-1). There is plenty of built-in drama heading into this matchup as Guthrie previously handed Miller her lone professional loss. Also, Guthrie and her teammate Brogan Walker have become good friends with Maximus, which caused Miller to become concerned that he might be sharing Team Peña secrets with the other team.
Also on this episode, Team Nunes heavyweight Chandler Cole suffered an elbow injury in training. He was diagnosed with a UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) tear and was told that the injury would not heal soon, but that he is medically cleared to compete.
Here are the first-round results so far:
Zac Pauga def. Nyle Bartling via unanimous decision
Mohammed Usman def. Mitchell Sipe via unanimous decision
Eduardo Perez def. Bobby Maximus via TKO (strikes) (R1, 3:58)
On next week’s episode, Team Peña’s Juliana Miller fights Team Nunes’ Claire Guthrie in a flyweight bout.
(*TUF bouts are considered exhibitions and fighters’ pro records are not affected by the results on the show)
Season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter is being coached by UFC bantamweight champion Julianna Peña and UFC featherweight champion Amanda Nunes. Peña defends her title against Nunes in a rematch that serves as the main event of UFC 277 on July 30 in Dallas.
The finalists of the TUF 30 heavyweight and flyweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract at a finale event with a date still to be announced.
New episodes premiere at midnight every Monday exclusively on ESPN+.
Here is the TUF 30 roster divided by team:
*replacement for Chantel Coates
Advancing to semifinals: Pauga, Neil, Usman, Gallardo, Perez
Eliminated: Bartling, Peralta, Sipe, Coates, Paprocki, Maximus