There may not be an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event this weekend, but you can still get your mixed martial arts (MMA) fix tonight (Tues., June 29, 2021) on ESPN+ as Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega continue their coaching battle on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 29.
Last time out, Team Ortega’s Vince Murdock continued his squad’s dominant run with a first-round knockout of Dustin Lampros, leaving the boys in blue sitting pretty at 4-0. Team Volkanovski Middleweight Bryan Battle will make the latest attempt to turn the tide against final over all pick Kemran Lachinov.
The current lineups:
Bantamweights: Mitch Raposo, Dustin Lampros, Ricky Turcios, Brady Hiestand
Middleweights: Ryder Newman, Gilbert Urbina, Aaron Phillips, Bryan Battle
Bantamweights: Dan Argueta, Liudvik Sholinian, Josh Rettinghouse, Vince Murdock,
Middleweights: Andre Petroski, Tresean Gore, Miles Hunsinger, Kemran Lachinov
Click HERE for recaps of Episodes 1-4.
We start in Team Volkanovski’s van immediately after the fight, where Mitch Raposo and the others slag Ortega for his shenanigans. Once they reach the house, Raposo and Team Ortega’s Petroski get into it over the latter’s part in the verbal scuffle. Raposo’s unhappy with Petroski biting back when Team Volkanovski accused Ortega of not being genuine, and Petroski has some solid passive-aggression in the one-on-one interview afterwards.
Over to Bryan Battle’s preparation. Volkanovski calls him a good listener and cites both his size and “unorthodox” approach. Battle himself explains the origin of his nickname “Pooh Bear,” while we watch him maul some guys on the regional circuit. He also outlines his plan to stay at range and potentially mix in takedowns if the opportunity arises.
Back in the house, Ortega and his squad luxuriate in their success. A vicious foosball battle ensues while Raposo further expounds on his distaste to the camera.
Lachinov and Sholinian chat about their families, then it’s on to Kemran’s home video. It offers some excellent footage of his adorable son as he talks about being born in Uzbekistan, moving to Russia, and eventually moving from soccer to fighting. He trains at Team Link Ludlow under Donald Fagan, and we get to see him hurl some training partners around the mat.
The Ortega coaching squad assure Lachinov that Battle has nothing for him on the feet, and Lachinov’s fight footage shows some remarkable tenacity and toughness. Ortega wants to try and limit his habit of brawling it out to ensure that he can win rounds and not just get a slugfest.
Battle’s turn for the home video, which showcases the carpentry business where he works and Hayastan Gym, where he trains. He describes himself as well-rounded, and says that despite not being a “full-time fighter,” he still gets the job done. We also get to see his sizable family, which includes five sisters, and his expecting wife with whom he gets into an inconclusive “I love you more” duel.
185 pounds for Battle, 186 for Lachinov. We’ve got a fight.
Middleweight Quarterfinal: Bryan Battle (Team Volkanovski) vs. Kemran Lachinov (Team Ortega)
Round one: Battle sending out kicks and jabs from range. Head kick attempt, good angle on the exit. Low kick from Lachinov, continuing to plod after him. Overhand right attempt. Superman punch from Battle a minute in. Body kick. Low kick from Lachinov. Battle still moving well. Head kick attempt, body kick, jab. Lachinov shoots two minutes in. Knees from Battle as he defends, then separates. Back to the potshotting at range. Lachinov ducks a hook for another level change. Battle defends with an underhook and lands knees with two minutes to go.
More good knees. They separate and Lachinov just marches after him with his hands down, absorbing a number of power shots and a head kick to no effect before shooting again. Battle continuing to run circles around him with a minute to go. Sharp counter right. Lachinov shoots, lands a knee. Rolling kneebar attempt. He switches to a straight ankle lock and eats punches for his trouble. 10-9 Battle.
Round two: Trading kicks to start the round. Battle still getting the better of it, grazes him with a head kick. Body kicks and jabs landing for him. One minute in. Cross counter and jab. Lachinov with an overhand right into a level change, nothing doing. Good knees by battle before they separate. Lachinov tries to roll for a leg and ends up on the bottom in half guard two minutes in. Back to the feet and Lachinov shoots once again. He completes this one, but can’t establish and takes a knee to the gonads on the way up. Two minutes to go.
Battle goes back to piecing him up at range. Lachinov with a wild swing into a level change, still nothing. Big knee and left hand from Battle on the break and he denies another shot, landing knees from the front headlock. One minute to go. Lachinov tries another rolling leglock and ends up on the bottom in guard. Battle chipping away in close.They stand and separate. Lachinov sprinting after him and shoots again, nothing doing. Good left from Battle. Lachinov flurries and shoots one last time. 10-9 Battle.
Final result: Battle def. Lachinov by unanimous decision
Volkanovski is understandably ecstatic about Battle’s success, while Ortega seems morose about Lachinov chasing takedowns instead of using his durability to overpower Battle on the feet.
Battle himself shouts out his wife and admits that while he likes to scrap, he wanted to stay technical and get the win. Lachinov leans on the old adage “win or learn” and is looking forward to getting better.
Ortega has control of the picks again, so he pits Bantamweight Dan Argueta against Ricky Turcios. Argueta seems particularly keen on the matchup, as fighting someone with Turcios’ experience can advance Argueta’s career.
Same time next week!