On the last episode of The Ultimate Fighter, we were introduced to the 8 bantamweights and middleweights that would star in this season’s rendition of the popular reality show. Coaches Brian Ortega and current UFC Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski previously picked their squads and faced off in their first Middleweight bout with Aaron Phillips of Team Volkanovski taking on Team Ortega’s Andre Petroski.
The fight started off with a lot of feeling out between both fighters. Petroski was able to use his strong wrestling skills to take down an inexperienced Phillips. He was then able to secure top positioning and lock in a mounted guillotine, where Phillips was forced to tap.
This win provided a large confidence boost to Team Ortega, especially in the much anticipated return of the show.
The second installment of Season 29 began with Coach Volkanovski hosting a “get together” for the fighters in the house. They all gathered around the TV to watch UFC 261 while Volkanovski prepared some high quality meals for everyone.
The next fight, which was picked at the end of the last episode, was the #1 Bantamweight of Team Volkanovski, Mitch Raposo vs Team Ortega’s Liudvik Sholinian.
Out of Fall River, MA, the 22 year old Raposo trains with Rob Font and fights out of Regiment Training Center. Mitch has a very strong relationship with his family and friends, especially his mother. He has only had high praise for his coach so far and stated that Volkanovski is one of his favorite fighters on the UFC roster. Mitch stated he loves to train and feels that he always needs to be in the gym.
Liudvik Sholinian was born in Armenia but moved to Ukraine when he was 3 years old. He has had a little bit of a hard time adjusting to the English language and stated that training with the English speaking Brian Ortega can be difficult. Ortega has taken to teaching with movement rather than speech when working with him. He was on the Ukraine National Wrestling Team and trains at Xtreme Couture.
Both fighters were able to successfully make weight for the contest: 136 (Liudvik) 135.5 (Mitch).
Round 1 started off with a friendly glove tap and a feeling out process for both fighters. Early on, Mitch showed off his incredible speed with very crisp boxing combinations. Liudvik began to take control of the octagon, constantly applying pressure and walking down Mitch. Liudvik goes to shoot for a few takedowns, but Mitch is able to sprawl and defend them. Mitch continues to blitz, landing nice left hooks to the body and the round ends. 1-0 in favor of Mitch.
Round 2 begins with Mitch still searching for a cracking left hook to land to the body and showcases great counter attacking. Liudvik is able to land a takedown after a few attempts, but Mitch is able to walk his way back to his feet after a short duration. Liudvik is able to set up another takedown and take back mount, sinking in a hook. He then starts to land multiple punches to the head. He keeps Mitch there and does some good work landing ground and pound until the round expires. Being 1-1 after 2 rounds, the judges call for a sudden death 3rd round and Mitch is visibly tired.
Sudden Death: Round 3
Liudvik is able to land a takedown early and takes back mount again. He searches for the rear naked choke as lots of hand fighting transpires. A good scramble by Mitch allows him to get Liudvik in his guard. Although Liudvik lands good right hands from top control, Mitch is able to scramble again and take his back, sinking in both hooks. Mitch searches for a choke of his own, but cannot attain one and Liudvik falls into Mitch’s guard again. With 30 seconds left in the round, referee Jason Herzog stands the fighters up. Liudvik shoots for yet another takedown and Mitch sprawls to defend, but secures positioning for a guillotine as he attempts to throw his legs around Liudvik’s body. He cannot keep the position however and Liudvik grabs top control again as the fight ends.
The judges scored the contest in favor of Liudvik Sholinian; another win for Team Ortega. No question that Mitch Raposo’s stand-up game is slick and sharp, but Liudvik had amazing wrestling skills and was able to grab a position and hold it. Liudvik makes a statement, knocking out the number one Bantamweight selection.
The next fight will be at Middleweight and will feature Ryder Newman (Volkanovski) taking on his friend, Tresean Gore (Ortega) next Tuesday night at 9pm EST on ESPN+.