The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 Strawweight Ultra Preview Extremely – Part 3 of 4
Part 3 of our four-part series on the athletes of The Ultimate Fighter 20 (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here) brings us three prospects and a veteran. But all of them may be capable of breaking into the upper-echelon.
The Athletes – Part 3
Emily Kagan (3-1 pro, 5-2 amat.)
Team: Jackson’s MMA | Height: 5’3” | Age: 33
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA | Last 5 Fights: – W W L W
Unified Rankings: NR | FightMatrix Ranking: NR | Tapology Ranking: #23
Notable Wins: Ashley Cummins
Styles: Boxing… lots and lots of boxing… with kicks | Intangibles: She is really, really good at punching people. And possibly coyotes.
Dan Frederick: When the UFC originally signed away 11 fighters from Invicta last Decemeber to participate in the inaugural Strawweight Championship tournament on TUF 20, one name stuck out more than any other as a strange addition. At least, when you consider that top ten fighters Katja Kankaapää, Mizuki Inoue, and Ayaka Hamasaki were all passed over (particularly Kankaanpää, who speaks passable English).
The fact is, a lot of people just didn’t know who she is and still don’t, at least beyond being the first victim of Rose Namajunas’ pro career. However, she’s much more than that. She’s a fine fighter coming out of the world’s top MMA camp, and she has excellent boxing technique, with crisp bobbing and weaving and rapid head movement, mixed up with low kicks to keep her opponents guessing.
And, I’ll be honest, so little is known about Emily that I literally made up something about her having mystical powers over coyotes before my editor told me to stop drinking while I write these things. So I’m gonna leave it at that.
She did have one hell of a fight with Ashley Cummins, which you can view on FightPass. Anyway, she’s good, she belongs on a big platform, but I don’t see her getting into the latter stages of this tournament. She’s shown vulnerability on the ground and she’s no world-beater, and unfortunately it’s going to take a world-beater to win this tournament.
World Muaythai Council Super Featherweight Champion
Photo by Mike Hensdill from GastonGazette.com
Team: Black House | Height: 5’5” | Age: 25
Last 5 Fights: – W W W W
Notable Wins: Randa Markos*, Munah Holland
Styles: Muay Thai, Boxing, punching or kicking anything that moves | Intangibles: trains out of the same gym as Lyoto Machida and AndersonFuckingSilva
Dan Frederick: First off, if you ever wondered what a combined Russian and North Carolinian accent sounds like, check out this interview. It is the most profoundly baffling accent I have ever heard in my life. It would be funny, if it wasn’t potentially a remnant of a rather heart-rending life story. Born in St. Petersburg in Russia, Justine was seriously ill at birth and her parents gave her up for adoption without even naming her. After spending the first years of her life in an orphanage, she finally became a candidate for adoption by an American couple from Pennsylvania.However, the people running the orphanage were initially hesitant because Justine was actually too helpful as an assistant with cleaning the place and helping the other children… at the age of four. Luckily, Justine herself had other ideas and wouldn’t return the photos given to her of her prospective parents, even sleeping with them under the pillow. Even when the orphanage relented, the adoption agency had to literally sneak her out in the middle of the night to get around bureaucratic red tape. Justine herself stated on the matter that “I couldn’t wait to get out of Russia.” Thus her downright Dickensian origins had a happy ending wherein the sweet little Russian orphan now beats the living shit out of other girls for money and fame. And thanks to a loving family that raised her, she is no less of a sweetheart for it.
As an adult, Justine Kish would go on to cultivate an extremely strong striking pedigree, accumulating a 1-0 record in boxing, 2-0 in kickboxing, 18-2 in Muay Thai, and 4-0 in MMA.
She has cardio to burn, and mixes in spinning backfists with traditional Muay Thai onslaughts. As one of the youngest members of the division, and with her ground game still developing, I do believe Kish could be a dark horse. However, that would be a dark horse in the UFC Strawweight division, not on TUF.
As for the TUF tournament, it’s worth noting that she has only ever attempted to fight at 115 once, and narrowly missed it. In Muay Thai her World Muaythai Council championship is actually at 130 lbs. Cutting weight can be a science that takes considerable refinement, and doing it three times in six weeks can be utterly brutal to people who have a lot to cut. I just don’t know how much this is going to affect her. On top of that, while she has shown much potential in MMA, I just don’t think she’s a top 10 fighter yet, and she’ll be competing with at least four of those on the show. I’ll cautiously predict that she makes it to the Quarterfinals.
Angela Magana (11-6)
Team: Phuket Top Team | Height: 5’4” | Age: 30
La Plata, New Mexico, USA & Phuket, Thailand | Last 5 Fights: W W W L L
Unified Rankings: NR | FightMatrix Ranking: NR | Tapology Ranking: #56
Notable Wins: Barb Honchak, Jessica Aguilar, Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc, Lynn Alvarez
Styles: Boxing, Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu | Intangibles: ??? | Mortal Enemy: Stephanie Eggink
Dan Frederick: With 17 professional fights, Angela Magana is one of the most experienced fighters in the tournament, and with a base in grappling. More recently, she’s been living and training out of Thailand for the past year, training with Phuket Top Team, honing her all around game (although predictably PTT specializes in Muay Thai more than anything).
While most people wouldn’t move to Thailand after spending just three weeks there, Angela Magana isn’t the most conventionally minded person, for better or worse. I’ll give her all the credit in the world for her guts for fighting five weeks after a car crash, but condemning doctors in general and threatening them for doing their job isn’t the most grounded approach to things.
One could argue that she may have a bit of a mental edge coming into TUF 20, since this is not her first reality television gig, as she was a cast member on the doomed Ultimate Women’s Challenge, but as that show started to crumble into the ground she almost single-handedly torpedoed the prize money when she was the lone holdout on dividing up the total purse by bout at the end of the show.
So, if there’s really anyone other than Felice Herrig who might end up being the bad guy this season (or giving the producers enough footage to create the impression of a bad guy), it’s Angela Magana, the woman with no fucks to give. At all.
While I can admire her lack of fuck-giving to a certain extent, and she’s definitely a worldly warrior, I don’t really see her advancing to the later stages in a tournament this stacked. She’s good, but last we saw her she was getting triangled by Stephanie Eggink. While there’s not much shame in losing to the woman who will be fighting for Invicta’s Strawweight Title next month, Magana is hardly some demonic force of nature, and I just don’t see her beating most of the women here.
Randa “Tabula Rasa” Markos (4-1 pro, 3-1 amat.)
Photo from The Windsor Star
Team: Maximum Training Centre Windsor | Height: 5’5” | Age: 28
Windsor, Ontario, Canada | Last 5 Fights: █ █ █ █ █
Notable Wins: *REDACTED*
Styles: Wrestling, Jiu-jitsu, Calgary Stampede Hybrid Strong Style, *REDACTED* | Intangibles: Unknown, unexpected, unheralded, unforgiving, unmerciful, she’s a one-woman splinter cell, hiding in plain sight.This is the best information that we have at this time. | Mortal Enemy: *REDACTED*
Jessica Hudnall: I know that I’ve watched several of Markos’ fights for previous preview/prediction posts on other websites (*cough championshiproundsmma.com cough*), but I simply cannot remember a single detail about her. Not even if she’s more of a striker or grappler. Since she’s basically a rank amateur in my mind, I can’t even say she’ll make it out of the first round.
Intangible: Capable of secreting a pheromone that wipes the memory of everyone that watches her. Said pheromone is transmissible through the internet.
Dan Frederick: Per orders of the Canadian Commonwealth, I have no knowledge of this individual or her fighting skills, which remain a state secret. What is rumored cannot be confirmed, but did Wanderlei Silva openly fleeing a random drug test make sense to anyone else? Perhaps he was fleeing something else. Perhaps he panicked when confronted with a secret night terror like an apparition appearing in broad daylight. Something truly horrific, that the mind disguises because it cannot even comprehend. Something Canadian. It doesn’t matter how many times you look at it, your mind will never accept it. Now is the time of Randa Markos. At least, until you look away.
You can follow Dan Frederick on Twitter @DCDry