Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Laura Gallardo made the most of a last-second opportunity and is now one step closer to a UFC contract.
The fourth episode of The Ultimate Fighter 30 saw Team Julianna Peña’s Laura Gallardo (4-1) become the most unlikely of semifinalists in the season’s flyweight tournament as she defeated Team Amanda Nunes’ Kathryn Paprocki (3-2)* by majority decision after being brought in as an alternate fighter for Chantel Coates. Gallardo wasn’t the only part of the bout switched, as Paprocki stepped in for teammate Brogan Walker.
It was Coates’ exit from the competition that caused the chain of changes as the recent Combate Global and Invicta FC fighter found herself unable to make weight. She had previously discussed how her health was affected by a bout with COVID-19 and a miscarriage, and when she told Peña and her coaches that she was 28.5 pounds over the flyweight limit ahead of her fight, they were immediately concerned. It was eventually decided that it would not be safe for her to attempt to cut the weight and she was forced to leave the competition and the TUF house.
Stepping into her place was Gallardo, who has also recently fought for Combate Global and Invicta FC as well as Cage Fury Fighting Championships. Because of the new opponent, Nunes was allowed to change her fighter selection as well, and she subbed in Paprocki for Walker to give Walker more time to recover from a Grade 1 MCL tear.
In the fight, Gallardo put the pressure on Paprocki with short combinations followed by deep takedown attempts. The first round saw Gallardo score multiple takedowns, though Paprocki was consistently able to use the cage to recover quickly and avoid much damage. Paprocki employed a stiff right hand to keep Gallardo at bay, and the round was a close one.
Round 2 was a clear Gallardo frame, as she eventually scored a takedown away from the fence and went to work from side guard. Gallardo advanced position while employing plenty of effective ground-and-pound, ending the round in top position doing damage.
The judges scored the fight a majority decision for Gallardo, though the cards were not read out, so it’s unclear if the judges who scored it for her gave her both rounds or if a 10-8 Round 2 earned her the nod. Regardless, Peña now holds a 3-1 lead over Nunes after four fights.
At the fighter announcement meeting, Peña selected her last heavyweight pick, Bobby Maximus, to take on Nunes’ No. 1 heavyweight Eduardo Perez
Here are the first-round results so far:
Zac Pauga def. Nyle Bartling via unanimous decision
Mohammed Usman def. Mitchell Sipe via unanimous decision
Laura Gallardo def. Kathryn Paprocki via majority decision
On next week’s episode, Team Peña’s Bobby Maximus fights Team Nunes’ Eduardo Perez in a heavyweight 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
Eliminated: Bartling, Peralta, Sipe, Coates, Paprocki