Team Tate teammates Sarah Moras and Julianna Pena face off this week with a spot in the women’s final on the line. As coach Miesha Tate trains with Pena, the team discusses how favoritism displayed last week is becoming more apparent.
“I definitely feel like Miesha and Bryan have sort of favored her this whole time. They’ve been friends before and she was their first pick,” Moras said. “I saw it coming and it does upset me.”
Tate decides that each fighter will train on opposite sides of the gym while the coaching staff will be split in half.
“It’s my first time working with a lot of girls as well. Emotions run a little bit higher. People’s feelings get a little bit hurt a little easier. I’m not a professional coach or a professional corner man but I’m trying my best to learn as I got and do right by my team,” Tate said.
Assistant coach Ricky Lundell says that Moras’ keys to victory are in keeping a good distance and changing levels. Since they have fought before, Lundell believes that each fighter knows what to expect from each other.
Pena has been focusing on arm bar and takedown defense. Her goal is to keep the fight standing and to avoid doing anything flashy. Pena wants to guillotine Moras but assistant coach Bryan Caraway advises against it saying that it wouldn’t bring an element of surprise.
“Julianna, her biggest problem in her whole career that I think I’ve told her, that I think other coaches in the past have told her is her self-doubt. She’s extremely negative on herself, really hard on herself and that’s what we’re trying to get past,” Caraway said. “She’s an amazing athlete. If we can get her past that mental block, she can beat anybody.”
As the semifinal match begins, Pena drags Moras to the ground and gains top position. Against her coaches’ wishes, Pena does not let Moras stand and mounts her with vicious elbows to the head. She passes to side control and lets loose.
Moras aggressively starts the second round with leg kicks. Pena is unfazed by the attack and works for a takedown. An elbow hits Moras directly above her eye and busts her open. Pena has side control and Moras panics to get on her feet, giving Pena the opening she needed to lock in a guillotine choke.
“What was a ballsy move by Julianna was to go for that choke. She had the top position the entire time. She goes for that choke and now you got sweat and blood and that thing could slip right out. But she snapped that choke in, grabbed it like she had it and choked her out,” Dana White said.
Next week’s match will be between Team Rousey teammates Anthony Gutierrez and David Grant.