Fighters didn’t dress up as maids, preach to housemates, or demonstrate breathing exercises this time around. Episode six of The Ultimate Fighter 19 was all about Ian Stephens, Roger Zapata, and one of the most controversial endings to a fight in the show’s history.
B.J. Penn and Frankie Edgar discuss this week’s fight, agreeing that Stephens’s wrestling background gives him an advantage. At TUF house, Stephens describes how losing his father at an early age steered him towards mixed martial arts. His father was electrocuted while working on an air conditioner when Stephens was six years old.
Coach Edgar wants Stephens to take the fight to the ground. Stephens would rather use deception; he wants to fake a takedown and look for a knockout.
Meanwhile, Zapata says his motivation come in thinking about his wife and newborn daughter. He struggles to concentrate and finds it impossible to train without thinking about his family. Still, Zapata finds strength in the separation and can only imagine how much they would benefit from his winning the tournament.
At Team Penn’s training session, former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes surprises the fighters and reveals that he will be their guest coach. Hughes teaches them grappling and defense techniques, putting extra attention to Zapata. Coach Penn says a victory is vital to his team’s morale coming off two straight losses.
Ian Stephens vs. Roger Zapata – middleweight bout
Round 1- Stephens begins with hard leg kicks while Rogers tentatively throws some jabs. Stephens goes for a leg takedown and presses Zapata against the cage. He takes Zapata’s back, slamming him to the mat and takes his back again. Zapata breaks away, gets back to his feet and works for a kimura, but is quickly taken down again. Zapata lands repeated elbows to the face, causing referee Steve Mazzagatti to Zapata to watch where he’s aiming. Stephens takes him down again and takes Zapata’s back. Zapata gets up as the round ends.
Round 2- As he planned, Stephens fakes a takedown and lands an overhand right, leading to a quick takedown. Stephens goes for an arm-triangle choke but Zapata gives his back up instead. Stephens can’t lock in a rear-naked choke after repeated attempts. As the end of the round nears, Zapata briefly escapes before Stephens takes him down again.
Rounds 3- Stephens immediately shoots for a takedown, meeting Zapata’s resistance until he finally floors him. Zapata lands multiple elbows and hammers to the point that Mazzagatti deems one elbow illegal. Rogers is deducted a point. As doctors check on Stephens, Dana White walks away in disgust in complete disagreement of the call. The fight resumes but Zapata’s confidence is visibly shaken. Stephens takes him down and unloads a flurry of punches. Again he looks for a rear-naked choke; unsuccessful as the final bell sounds.
Zapata defeats Stephens via decision
Confusion and anger fill the gym as Zapata is announced the winner. White sends everyone to their locker rooms to avoid any misplaced emotions. He asks the judges to break down their rulings: one said Stephens won the third round, 10-8, while the others thought it a draw. Given Zapata’s one-point deduction- and the fact that there aren’t draws on the show- the judges sided with the winner over three rounds.
Coach Penn breaks a two-fight losing streak and selects light heavyweight Anton Berzon to battle Patrick Walsh next week.
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