On Friday, December 12th the UFC will hold the twentieth edition of The Ultimate Fighter FinaleThis season was one of the most anticipated coming in. It was the first season to feature entirely women and it will also be the first season to crown a champion at the end. The sixteen women were seeded and placed into a bracket where they fought for supremacy.

In the night’s main event, we will see the finals of that tournament when Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas clash to become the first ever UFC women’s strawweight champion. Esparza came into the season as the number one seed and picked up wins over Angela Hill, Tecia Torres, and Jessica Penne. Esparza was the Invicta FC champion and gave up her title to pursue this opportunity. Namajunas is certainly coming into this fight with an experience disadvantage, but her flashy style and tendency to finish fights made her a fan favorite over the course of the season. The number seven seed defeated Alex Chambers, JoAnne Calderwood, and Randa Markos to earn her spot in the finals.

The night’s co-main event will also be an interesting showdown as featherweights Jeremy Stephens and Charles Oliveira fight to move up the rankings. Stephens had what many would consider a career-best performance last time out in a losing effort against Cub Swanson. That was Stephens’ first loss at featherweight. Upon moving down to 145 pounds, Stephens won three straight including a highlight reel knockout over Rony “Jason”. Oliveira is back on a winning streak after losing two straight to Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar. The Brazilian has since rebounded with two straight submission victories over Andy Ogle and Hatsu Hioki.

The night will also feature a multitude of matchups from competitors from TUF including a matchup between semi-final losers, Jessica Penne and Randa Markos.

The main card kicks off on Friday night at 9 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 with preliminary action airing on Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

Full results and a main card recap can be found below.

Main Card Summary

Jessica Penne vs. Randa Markos

The main card opens up with a battle of runner-ups in which Jessica Penne, who fell to Carla Esparza in the semi-finals of TUF 20, takes on Iraqi-Canadian Randa Markos, who lost a quick, high-paced bout against Rose Namajuanas. Both fighters have a great upside in the strawweight division, and this fight should get things started off with a bang!

Herb Dean is calling the shots in this one; Penne looks to be the more at ease of the two fighters. As the action starts, she displays some active footwork, but Randa comes out swinging. Penne winds up on top as the fight goes to the ground, and already, one of the fighters is opened up. A triangle attempt from Penne falls through, and after a brief reversal of position, Penne once again takes top position, and obtains full mount. Markos is quick on the bottom and manages to escape, and winds up on top herself. Penne’s experience is showing as she manages to lure a standing Markos into a triangle, while the Canadian fighter tries to maintain posture and do something while in control. Marko’s energy seems to almost be working against her, as at times she’s taking herself out of position. Penne finishes the round on top.

Markos, who had been opened up, is cleaned up between rounds. Markos throws an uppercut. Her striking has continued to improve since last we saw her. She gets the takedown and lands a punch on the downed Penne. Penne is trying to lure her in again, however Markos is having none of it. Penne just missed with a right. The pace, frantic in the first, has slowed just a little. Penne pushes forward; Markos answers with a flurry of punches. Markos lands another takedown, and she’s in mount. Penne, however, is just too good on the ground, and gets herself on top. Markos might be best served to keep this fight standing.

It’s a close fight heading into the third. Spinning backfist by Markos brings a roar from the crowd.  Two more come within the first minute but are not as effective. An uppercut follows shortly after the last one. Markos is definitely winning the striking battle at this point, but eats a knee that doesn’t seem to phase her. Penne clinches momentarily. Penne shoots in for a double leg and gets the takedown. Markos looks for an armbar but gives up her back, almost getting caught in a rear naked choke for her transgression. Penne winds up caught in an inverted triangle after showing some terrific Jiu-jitsu of her own for most of the second half of the round, and finishes the fight caught in it, throwing hammerfists back towards Markos.

We go to the judges, who award a split decision to Jessica Penne, 28-29, 30-27, and 29-28. This one has a chance as an early Fight of the Night candidate.

Joe Proctor vs. Yancy Medeiros

The first men’s bout of the night is a lightweight tilt between Joe Proctor and Yancy Medeiros. Both men are coming off wins, but are outside the top fifteen and looking for relevance within the division. Medeiros in particular is coming off a Performance of the Night win, and looking to build momentum here.

The fighters touch gloves, and we’re under way. Some kicks to start the action off. Proctor is working on the lead leg of Medeiros. The sound of these leg kicks is impressive and cringe-worthy. Medeiros lands a big right. Proctor, however, recovers, and lands a few of his own. Medeiros is complaining about a low blow that went undetected. Spinning back kick attempt by Medeiros. Spinning backfist lands for Proctor. Medeiros connects with a spinning back kick and Proctor is down and in danger. Medeiros has a tight guillotine, and there’s the tap!

A solid round of action ends in Yancy Medeiros submitting Joe Proctor at the 4:37 mark.

K.J. Noons vs. Daron Cruickshank

Also at lightweight, former EliteXC champ K.J. Noons meets Daron Cruickshank. Cruickshank is making a quick turnaround after picking up a win over Anthony Njokuani in October; Noons, meanwhile, has won two in a row, most recently against Sam Stout.

Cruickshank opens with some heavy leg kicks, as does K.J., followed by a spinning backfist from Cruickshank. These guys are looking to end things early. Big John stops the action due to an accidental eye poke. Asks Cruickshank how many fingers he’s holding up (he doesn’t even have his hand up). Cruickshank answers none and Big John replies “good”  in a comical moment. The action is under way again. Both fighters are still throwing with the intent to end the fight early. Noons stuns Cruickshank towards the end, throws a big knee that either doesn’t connect or just grazes. Cruickshank appears fine by round’s end.

Round two starts off fast and K.J. Noons manages to knock Cruickshank down. Looks like a knee from the original angle but the reply shows it’s another inadvertent eye poke. Cruickshank is bleeding from the eye area, and the ringside doctor comes in to check his vision. This time, the “how many fingers” question is serious. Big John gives another warning to Noons while the doctor gives Cruickshank time to recover. Cruickshank says he can’t see and is unable to continue, and Big John waves off the fight. It goes into the books as a No Contest.

Jeremy Stephens vs. Charles Oliveira

Friday’s co-main event sees 14th ranked Charles Oliveira take on 10th ranked Jeremy Stephens in a key fight in the UFC’s featherweight division. Oliveira has bounced back nicely since dropping a pair of fights to Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar, and is currently on a two-fight win streak. Stephens, meanwhile, is coming off a win of his own, and looking to string together a pair and get back into the mix.

We open the co-main event with Oliveira closing the distance, but Stephens quickly getting on top. Oliveira working for an armbar, Stephens picks him up and slams him, though he’s still caught. Oliveria is landing shots and elbows from the bottom. Incredibly, Oliveira still has the arm with the round half over. Stephens finally pops free. Did Oliveira exert too much energy in that submission attempt? Stephens lands some elbows from the top. Now they’re back to the feet, but Oliveira is on him like a wet blanket. Stephens lands a right with thirty seconds left in the round; Oliveira is covered up but had to feel it. He ends the round on a kick.

Round two picks up where the first ended. Solid action on the feet. Oliveira shoots for a single up against the cage. Stephens is in a wizard and lands some solid elbows, but Oliveira eventually manages to drag him to the ground. Soon enough he has the mount, with a body triangle locked in. He may be looking for a rear-naked choke here. No, he moves into position for an arm bar instead. He has it. Stephens manages to escape to his feet! He’s looking to rain blows from the top, but Oliveira is back on his feet. The story of this fight so far is Oliveira locking in tight looking submission attempts, and Stephens somehow managing to escape. The round ends in just that fashion, with another escape and Stephens delivering more blows from above.

Round three. Oliveira invites Stephens into his guard. Stephens declines. Back to the feet. Down again, Stephens working for a sub this time, but nothing comes of it. While Stephens ability to escape is admirable in a Houdini-esque sort of way, he needs to get active and look for the finish. Oliveira tries luring him into his guard again. No go, and Herb Dean stands him up. Oliveira scores a takedown. Works a bit, Stephens escapes. Oliveira is still trying to sucker Stephens into his guard, motioning him in with his hands. The crowd isn’t impressed. Stephens hems and haws, launches a brutal punch from above, but he’s really wasting valuable time. Stephens just can’t seem to land consistently enough. Having said that, he lands several blows at the end, finishing strong but it’s too little, too late. The unanimous decision goes to Charles Oliveira.

Carla Esparza vs. Rose Namajunas – Women’s strawweight title fight

The main event of the evening features Invicta strawweight champ Carla Esparza, the favorite entering TUF 20 and a member of Team Pettis, taking on Rose Namajunas, the lone member of Team Melendez to make it out of the first round. Esparza has, by far, the more experience of the two, but Namajunas looked like a complete fighter on TUF 20, and this should be a fantastic match-up.

Leading into the main event, it’s noted that Rose has actually opened as a slight favorite to win the title.

Lots of Rose fans in the crowd. They touch gloves before getting started. And here we go. Rose moves quickly across the cage to start. Throwing those unorthodox strikes, but Carla has the takedown already. Thirty seconds or so in. Rose is back up. Strong leg kick, misses a flying knee, Esparza gets another takedown, but Rose is right back up, might not have even been scored a takedown. A frantic pace in this fight so far. Rose trying to unleash some spinning moves. Push kick by Rose. She’s still very active, clearly the aggressor.  Carla backing up, circling. Shoots in suddenly and there’s another takedown. As expected, striker vs. grappler is paying out. Carla delivering blows from the top now. And they’re back up with a minute to go! Knees from each fighter up against the cage, then they make space with about fifteen seconds left. Esparza lands a takedown to end the round.

This is looking like a fantastic bout. Great round.

Round two under way. The fighters trade knees. Rose clearly has the striking edge but Carla is no slouch. Carla is all over the ground game however. Rose doesn’t seem to be able to do much from the bottom. Carla on top, working for position, then landing some solid elbows.  Rose trying to latch onto an arm – and they’re up. Down again, and again, Carla is showing incredible strength on top.  Rose is eating some elbows now, and Carla manages to pass guard towards round’s end. Rose is eating a lot of shots. This may be stopped.

Saved by the bell. Rose just barely escapes the round. Carla ended with strong ground and pound. How will Rose look coming out for the third?

Carla starts the third with a takedown. It’s worst case scenario for Namajunas — she needs to keep this standing. Now gives up the back, and Carla has full back mount, landing shots. Carla has locked in a rear naked choke — and there’s the tap! We have our inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champion, Carla Esparza!

This turned out to be a great finale. Welcome to the UFC, women’s strawweights!

Full Results

Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas for the inaugural women’s strawweight championship by submission (rear naked choke) at 1:26 of the third round
Charles Oliveira defeated Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision [30-27, 29-28, 29-28] (catchweight – 146.5 lbs)
K.J. Noons vs. Daron Cruickshank ends in a No Contest at 0:25 of the second round due to an inadvertent eye poke (lightweight)
Yancy Medeiros  defeated Joe Proctor via submission (guillotine) at 4:37 of the first round (lightweight)
Jessica Penne defeated Randa Markos via split decision [28-29, 30-27, 29-28] (strawweight)

Preliminary card (Fox Sports 1)

Felice Herrig defeated Lisa Ellis via submission at 3:05 of the second round (armbar) (strawweight)
Heather Jo Clark defeated Bec Rawlings via unanimous decision [29-28, 29-28, 29-28] (strawweight)
Joanne Calderwood defeated Seo Hee Ham via unanimous decision [30-27, 30-27, 30-26] (strawweight)
Tecia Torres defeated Angela Magana via unanimous decision [30-27, 30-27, 30-26] (strawweight)

Preliminary card (UFC Fight Pass)

Aisling Daly defeated Alex Chambers via submission (armbar) at 4:53 of the first round (catchweight – 118 lbs)
Angela Hill defeated Emily Kagan via unanimous decision [30-26, 30-26, 30-27] (strawweight)

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.