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TUF 20: Aisling Daly keeps Team Pettis rolling with a win over Angela Magana




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Aisling Daly and Angela Magana put on the fight of the season so far. It was an exciting action filled back and forth battle with one of the worst referees in the show’s history. How much he influenced is hard to quantify but he did influence it. Which is unfortunate because it does take way from the fight and Daly’s win a little just by being a distraction. It just sucks seeing fighters work hard and have someone from the outside make mistakes and affect their lives especially on a show like this where a mistake in one round can be huge. Instead of the referee even being in the discussion the attention should have been on the fight between two of the underrated pioneers of the sport.

The year was 2007

Both Daly and Magana started their careers in the spring of 2007. They have fought for many organizations during the early darker days for women in the sport. As was often the case during that period of the sport they fought above their current weight class. Which meant that they spent a lot of time at flyweight just to get fights. As Magana she mentioned on the show that she has fought some of the best in WMMA. The same can be said for Daly who holds a win over current UFC bantamweight Jessica Eye.

One of the better elements of the show is seeing fighters like this finally get some of the attention that they deserve. They help keep the sport alive fighting in small venues, for little to no pay, all for their love of the sport. All too often it is people like Daly and Magana who toil away in the early days miss out when their sport becomes big. TUF 20 has given them more exposure. It was not surprising to see these two survivors of the wilder early days of WMMA put on the best fight of the season so far.

The fight and expectations 

This was the kind of fight that fans unfairly expected every single week of this season of TUF. It is what happens when you assemble  the top strawweights together to determine the first UFC champion. Fans expectations go way up. That was boosted by the fact that several of the cast members had already fought each other in some memorable clashes. Fans were expecting one of those each and every week. The seeding format had a lot to do with why that has not happened.

By going to a seeding format with the top seed facing the bottom seed it was bound to create mismatches. We have seen several of those so far like the Carla Esparza versus Angela Hill one. It was a lot to ask of Hill to take on a grappler like Esparza in just her second MMA fight. The Randa Markos win over Tecia Torres was the only upset so far of the season and by far the closest fight of it. As we move into the second round look for more close and competitive fights.

Many fans felt like the matchup between Daly and Magana had potential to be one of the best of the first round. Two tough as tanks fighters who can battle in all areas of the sport. Both are aggressive fighters who look to finish fights and it was not surprising to see them go into the third round. Though it almost did not make it out of the first.

Is Anthony Pettis a Jedi? Or WTF ref, do you even know the sport? 

Again it is impossible to say what would have happened if the ref had not stood them up in the first round. For anyone to claim that they know exactly what would have happened, just shows their ignorance. Would Magana secured a submission and the win? Maybe, but actually unlikely as Daly is a very underrated grappler.

She has seven wins via submission and has never been submitted. Add in the fact that she trains out of Straight Blast Gym in Ireland with Gunnar Nelson and it is unlikely that Magana was going to submit Daly. We had already seen her excellent submission defense during most of the round. The ref’s standup did take Magana out of a great position and put them in a neutral one. She still won the round though and to blame the ref for the outcome takes away from Daly’s performance.

Just because Magana had Daly’s back does not mean that there could not be a justified standup from there like it is some sacred position. If Magana had been stalling and just holding on then you can see where the ref could and should stand them up but not when she is working for to either advance her position or secure a submission. Which is what Magana was doing when the ref stood them up.

The standup happened right when Pettis asked for it almost like he Jedied the ref into doing it. This could explain how he was able to get all of the top seeds on his team. Between the picks and Kish’s injury, he now has the top six seeds with the addition of #3 seed Torres to go with the #10 seed Alex Chambers and the #14 seed Markos. The best that Team Melendez can do is get two fighters into the next round which would pit them against the top two seeds in Esparza and #2 Joanne Calderwood. Now, both Rose Namajunas and Bec Rawlings are capable of winning the show and are Melendez’ two best fighters. They are also two that many fans cannot wait to see in action.

Don’t forget about Daly

All the talk about the ref takes away from Daly’s performance. It was ultimately what she did in the octagon that won the fight. If she had got the finish in the first round after the standup then it would be different but Magana still won the first round. One of the problems she had, was her cardio faded in the second and third rounds. It could have had something to do with how hard she worked for the choke in the first round.

Once Magana got her back she immediately went hard after the choke and was cranking on it. She was never really able to get fully under the chin and get it locked in. Daly defended it well throughout the round. Magana could have taxed her arms a lot during this time and she was affected by the ref standing them up early. That kind of rush of anger in the middle of a fight can act like the adrenaline rush for a debuting fighter and slow them down. Daly also had something to with Magana being tired. Daly always has great cardio and gets stronger as the fight goes on.

In the second round Daly came out aggressive with her striking and backed Magana up. After a couple of exchanges where Daly out struck her we saw Magana go hard for a double leg. Daly sprawled out and punished Magana with punches on the ground and a knee when they got back to their feet. When the fight did go to the ground it was Daly who was on top. She took Magana’s back and did more damage with her ground and pound while searching for submissions. One sequence that I think had a lot to do with Daly winning the fight.

Once Daly got the back again as they neared the final minute of the round she ended up on top of Magana who was on her side. Daly had one leg stuck between Magana’s while working on her right arm and pinning down her left under her body. Magana wrapped her arms around Daly’s left leg. This left Magana with her right side exposed and Daly took advantage of it.

After briefly trying to work to isolate the right arm, Daly switched to pounding away on Magana’s ribs. During the stupid ref’s refrains of stay busy, Daly dropped seven straight fists to almost the same spot on the side. They were nasty body shots and easily contributed to taking something out of Magana. The blows forced her to scramble and Daly ended the round going after a rear naked choke.

It was another grueling round of grappling with a little more standup than the first round. Magana battled but it was easily Daly’s round. It was clear that unless the judges were as incompetent as the ref that this fight was going to the third round.

Sudden Victory

It was clear that Daly and Magana were exhausted at the end of the second round. They both were breathing heavy in their corners between rounds. It was Daly who was able to dig deeper in this fight but for a brief nano-second it looked like Magana had won the fight.

They came out firing away at each other with both landing several solid strikes. Then just barely ten seconds into the round Magana landed a pretty clean head kick. At first as it landed you are looking for Daly to drop. Then just react at all. The kick barely even moved her at all.

Moments later they ended up in a clinch and Daly just wore her down to the ground taking the back. Daly went right to work pounding away and flattening her out. After some ground and pound Daly went to work briefly for the choke. Magana defended and rolled over on her back. This left her head pinned up against the cage with Daly on top pounding away.

Ultimately they ended up with Daly mounted on top. She trapped Magana’s left arm under her own neck and secured it with her right arm. Not only was the arm trapped – it was being used to choke Magana a little as well. Her right arm pinned her own body and was ineffectual in stopping Daly from raining down blows to Magana’s face. After 20 straight blows the ref finally stopped it.

Daly is a contender

Everyone saw why Daly was seeded fifth. She fights with tremendous heart, skill and insane toughness. This win moves her on to the second round against teammate Jessica Penne and sets up a great matchup. The win extended Team Pettis’ streak to six and means that they now have another set of teammates fighting in the next round.

The win also continued the Irish takeover of the UFC, particularly the team of SBG. There was no doubt that Daly’s spirits were raised by watching the Dublin event before her fight. That certainly helped her win the fight but it was the skills she has honed in the gym back home along with her fighting spirit that carried her through this fight and into the next round. I expect another classic battle when her and Penne clash in the next round.


An avid lifetime fight fan who loves to write about it. So kick back, get comfortable and let's have some fun! "Wants me to tell him something pretty." Al Sweargen "Going wrong is not the end of fucking things, Johnny. Fuck no! I have comeback from plenty of shit that looked like it was going wrong." Dan Dority "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." Bill Munny