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TUF 26 Finale results and highlights: O’Malley wins fun scrap with Ware, Johns submits Soto

Check out the main card results for The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada, including the co-main event between Sean O’Malley and Terrion Ware.

MMA: TUF 26 Finale Soto vs Johns Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale has just one fight left, and that’s the main event title fight between Roxanne Modafferi and Nicco Montano. As for the other main card action, Brett Johns kicked things off with a stunning calf slicer win vs. Joe Soto, then DeAnna Bennett survived a knockdown to grind out an uninspiring draw vs. Melinda Fabian, Gerald Meerschaert crumpled Eric Spicely with a vicious body kick, Lauren Murphy edged out Barb Honchak on the scorecards, and “Lookin’ For a Fight” signing Sean O’Malley dug deep to win a thriller over Terrion Ware. Here’s how the fights played out.

Sean O’Malley def. Terrion Ware by unanimous decision (29-28 x3) - Bantamweights

O’Malley’s first strike was a spinning back kick, which seemed apt for his flashy, unpredictable style. A couple of hard body kicks scored for “Suga’ Sean” on Ware, who was definitely at an athletic disadvantage. Ware closed the distance but didn’t get anything done there. O’Malley was active and keeping Ware at range with his size and speed. Ware’s best offense was his leg kicks, which O’Malley didn’t bother to check. O’Malley got in a stiff left hand and when Ware was in close, O’Malley tossed him aside. Ware worked his jab and tried to keep the pressure on, but O’Malley cut angles and continued to land solid strikes.

It was O’Malleys ticking out the jab and working his power shots off of them early in round 2. A quick head kick nearly found its target for O’Malley. When Ware moved forward, O’Malley stung him with an uppercut. Ware was doggedly determined to close the space and tee off on O’Malley, and he appeared to have O’Malley hurt with a series of knees to the head. Two right hands connected for Ware, and O’Malley was getting hit more often. O’Malley had his hands at his side, and Ware was clubbing O’Malley against the fence. A head kick by O’Malley failed, he fell on his back, and Ware went into Sean’s guard. O’Malley scrambled to his feet and landed a spinning backfist. Ware had O’Malley’s face bloodied, but O’Malley was landing some good single punches to fend off the attacks from “Flash.” O’Malley pulled guard on a triangle choke, then a heel hook, neither of which was close, and the round ended with Ware firing off another right hand.

O’Malley started brightly in the final round, finding a second wind and cracking Ware with punches and kicks in the first minute. A straight left backed Ware up, as Terrion reduced his pressuring. O’Malley attempted an upward elbow, Silva-Fryklund style, but it didn’t appear to land. The reach advantage and accuracy of O’Malley turned things back in his favor, as Ware was getting piece up by O’Malley’s whirlwind of offense. Ware also demonstrated one hell of a chin. O’Malley took Ware down, let him back up and instantly smashed his body with a kick. Another takedown by O’Malley turned into a d’arce choke attempt, which he quickly abandoned. Ware was spent, off target, and he was outmatched in what was an entertaining fight. O’Malley remains unbeaten, while Ware is 0-2 in the UFC.

Lauren Murphy def. Barb Honchak by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)- Women’s Flyweights

The first round was virtually a kickboxing battle, with both women finding success in spurts. Murphy’s best punch was her right hand, while Honchak looked to hit Murphy off the counter and when she came forward. It was a really difficult round to score, and the stats backed that up.

Honchak appeared to hurt Murphy with a right hand over the top in round 2, but Honchak never really pounced on the opportunity. The fight remained contested exclusively on the feet, with Honchak seemingly getting the better of the exchanges. Murphy didn’t get discouraged, landed her own punches, then took Honchak down late in the round. Honchak stood up, Lauren went for the back but lost the position.

Murphy tagged Honchak with an overhand right, and this time around she shot early for a takedown and completed the low single. A few elbows rained down from Murphy in Honchak’s closed guard. Honchak searched for the armbar with 2:30 to go in the fight, then switched to a triangle choke, which was far more dangerous than the armbar. Honchak transitioned to a belly-down armbar, which Murphy crucially defended. Murphy then took Honchak’s back in the final minute, but couldn’t get any offense going. Murphy took the fight on a days’ notice, having been pegged as an alternate opponent in case a vacant spot opened up on the card, and it paid off in a big way.

Gerald Meerschaert def. Eric Spicely by TKO (body kick) at 2:18 of round 2 - Middleweights

Meerschaert teed off early on Spicely, starting off with a strayght left hand, followed by a slew of head shots, but it appeared as if Spicely covered up and blocked most of the power punches aimed at him. Spicely took Meerscheart down and took control of the back with a body triangle. Meerschaeart was in a bad spot and Spicely took his time and looked to set up a rear-naked choke. Spicely didn’t come close to setting up anything dangerous, and in fact his failed armbar led to him losing the dominant position. Meerschaert close the round on top for a few seconds.

Meerschaert went to the head and body with his straight lefts in round 2, whereas Spicely’s shots were upstairs. A hard body kick noticeably thudded against Spicely, whose single-leg takedown was stuffed, then they traded body kicks. The success Meerschaert had with his body kicks paid off in a big way, as the next one he landed folded Spicely up and ended the fight. It was such a violent kick that you’d have thought Spicely was just crushed with a baseball bat.

DeAnna Bennett vs. Melinda Fabian ends in a majority draw (29-27 Bennett, 28-28, 28-28) - Women’s Flyweights

More than half of the opening round was a prolonged and relatively futile clinch battle. Referee John McCarthy separated them at one point, and Fabian appeared to have the upper hand on the feet, so Bennett re-instigated the clinch, and offense was hard to come by once again. Once they separated in the closing seconds, Fabian walloped Bennett with a head kick that put her on the canvas. She was saved by the horn, as Bennett struggled to her feet.

Cobwebs seemingly cleared, Bennett engaged in another ugly clinch battle, but if worked to some extent, as Fabian was docked a point for a glaringly obvious fence grab to stop a takedown. They returned to the same position they were in prior to the takedown, and it was more of the same in terms of it being a stalemate, so McCarthy separated them. Bennett changed levels, drove her opponent to the fence, and there was no takedown to be had for Bennett. Fabian threw some stay-busy strikes, McCarthy separated them again, and Bennett did the exact same thing, much to the crowd’s annoyance. Fabian ended the second frame by nearly catching Bennett with another head kick.

Fabian had the definitive advantage in space with her striking, and Bennett’s lack of meaningful offense was noticeable. Bennett caught a leg after the Hungarian threw a kick, and surprise surprise, it was a battle against the fence. McCarthy split them apart again, and we saw some brief striking exchanges before Bennett...you know the drill. In the final minute, Bennett landed a body kick, but was stunned by an elbow. Fabian was put off balance by slipping on a kick, Bennett wound up on top in a scramble, and ended the fight by throwing some short punches to the head. As it turns out, the point deduction cost Fabian the win.

Brett Johns def. Joe Soto by submission (calf-slicer) at :30 of round 1 - Bantamweights

Soto took Johns down within the first thirty seconds, and it was all over just moments later. Johns had Soto in a calf-slicer and it was tap time for Soto. An astonishing win for the still-unbeaten Welshman, and a shocking end to a three-fight winning streak for Soto. It’s just the second calf-slicer finish in UFC history, with the other one belonging to Charles Oliveira against Eric Wisely back in 2012.