The UFC featherweight champion is on the board.
Alexander Volkanovski’s team scored his first win of The Ultimate Fighter 29 as his last middleweight pick Bryan Battle defeated Brian Ortega’s last middleweight pick Kemran Lachinov. The two went the distance in a bout that was contested primarily on the feet, with Battle taking a convincing unanimous decision.
Battle’s win snaps an 0-4 start to the season for Volkanovski, who has already seen top bantamweight pick Mitch Raposo and top middleweight pick Mitch Ryder bounced from the reality show competition.
The less experienced Battle (5-1) used his size and range advantage to out-strike Lachinov (10-3) and fend off his takedown attempts. Heading into this encounter, Lachinov had actually put together a 5-1 record in Bellator competing sporadically for that promotion since 2015, but it was clear that the natural welterweight was at a disadvantage.
Lachinov repeatedly marched forward into Battle’s strikes, taking several straight punches to the head and teeps to the body as he swung wildly looking for a knockout blow. When he was able to close the distance, his grappling rarely led to any significant offense and Battle led the dance for the majority of the two-round contest.
As TUF bouts are considered exhibitions, neither fighter’s pro records are affected by the outcome on the show.
It was Ortega’s turn to pick a fight this episode and he chose his No. 1 bantamweight Daniel Arguleta to fight Ricky Turcios, the third bantamweight pick of Team Volkanovski.
In other storylines, tensions rose between the two teams as Raposo confronted Team Ortega’s Andre Petroski about talking some trash at the last fight announcement.
Here are the first-round results so far:
Andre Petroski def. Aaron Phillips via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 4:42
Liudvik Sholinian def. Mitch Raposo via decision
Tresean Gore def. Ryder Newman via decision
Vince Murdock def. Dustin Lampros via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 2:40
Bryan Battle def. Kemran Lachinov via decision
On next week’s episode, Team Ortega’s Daniel Arguleta fights Team Volkanovski’s Ricky Turcios in a bantamweight bout.
The finalists of the TUF 29 middleweight and bantamweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract at a finale event with a date still to be announced.
Here is the TUF 29 roster divided by team:
Advancing to Round 2: Petroski, Sholinian, Gore, Murdock, Battle
Eliminated: Phillips, Raposo, Newman, Lampros, Lachinov