This week, Team Alvarez sends Hungarian striker Melinda Fabian, the No. 7 overall seed, against Team Gaethje’s Rachael Ostovich-Berdon, who enters the tournament as the No. 10 seed.
Fabian has been relatively quiet all season long, but she came under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons a week ago after suffering a hamstring injury that threatened to knock her out of the competition. Injuries on The Ultimate Fighter are commonplace, much like anywhere else in mixed martial arts, but Fabian joined Emily Whitmire as the fighters who have suffered through ailments with a shortened timeline until they must determine whether they can compete or drop out of the competition.
Thankfully, Fabian received some much needed treatment at the UFC Performance Institute to help her deal with the hamstring injury, but considering her expertise lies in the striking realm and she’s going up against a noted wrestler in Ostovich-Berdon, the Hungarian newcomer needs to be quick on her reflexes and that’s going to require every muscle firing on point for this fight.
Fabian joins the show this season fighting for more than just her own personal glory to become women’s flyweight champion because she’s also competing to prove Hungary is a country that produces legitimate mixed martial artists. Hungary hasn’t been known as a hotbed for combat sports, but Fabian hopes to change that with her performance in this tournament while hopefully moving forward with a successful career in the UFC.
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At home, Fabian lives with her boyfriend and a roommate while she trains out of a local gym in Hungary. She’s fought mostly in shows around Europe, so she’s relatively unknown by most of the other fighters in the house, but that could absolutely work to her advantage because it’s not as easy to find footage on her as it might be some of the other competitors in the tournament. Fabian is a long, lean fighter with her background coming from kickboxing, so she’s got plenty of striking in her arsenal to use as a weapon against anybody she faces this season.
As for Ostovich-Berdon, she hails from the state of Hawaii, where she grew up with mixed martial arts in her blood as her father was also a fighter. While Ostovich-Berdon dreamed early on of becoming a competitive cheerleader, her passion for combat sports eventually took over as she embarked on an MMA career of her own.
Ostovich-Berdon is also a mom to a four-year-old girl named Ruby, who she adores more than anything else in the world. Many of the fighters on the show this season had to leave families behind to compete in the tournament and Ostovich-Berdon is another who had to sacrifice time with her daughter and husband to take a shot at becoming the first ever women’s flyweight champion.
Growing up, Ostovich-Berdon was a natural athlete before eventually transitioning into wrestling and the grappling arts.
Ostovich-Berdon is just 3-3 in her pro career, but she’s shown a ton of promise after jumping into the deep end of MMA by joining Invicta Fighting Championships after just two fights. Just two fights ago, Ostovich-Berdon picked up a win over fellow Ultimate Fighter cast mate Ariel Beck, so she’s certainly faced some stiff competition in her career. Now she has a chance to make waves by not only winning her first fight in the tournament, but also pulling off an upset as the No. 10 seed going up to face the No. 7 seed in Fabian.
Elsewhere in the show this week, UFC President Dana White will pay a visit to the women living in The Ultimate Fighter house for the first time this season.
White typically drops by the house at least once or twice a season – often because some sort of near disaster has forced him to make his presence known ¬- but this time around it’s just to check in with the fighters as they approach the end of the opening round of this ever important tournament.
It was just a few years ago when White famously stated that women would never compete in the UFC Octagon, but his opinion changed when he saw Ronda Rousey compete for the first time. Rousey’s continued success convinced White that it was time to see women fight in the UFC and her success soon turned into a thriving women’s bantamweight division.
Rousey’s success, coupled with the rise of the women’s bantamweight division, then led to the UFC adding a second division, with the strawweights joining the promotion. The first ever champion was crowned by way of The Ultimate Fighter season 20 that followed a similar format as the current tournament. With two women’s divisions in place, White then added a third, with the inaugural women’s featherweight belt being put up for grabs in February, but that appeared to be the last.
Only a few months later, White changed his mind yet again when he decided to add the women’s flyweight division, and the current season of The Ultimate Fighter would once again crown a champion. White jokes in the upcoming episode that he really should stop declaring that something will never happen because inevitably he always seems to change his mind.
White’s visit will also serve as a pep talk for the women, as the grind of the tournament will only get tougher in the coming weeks, but the reward is huge. Everybody on the show wants to have a life changing moment and nothing guarantees that faster than becoming a UFC champion.
Ostovich-Berdon and Fabian have a chance to take one more step towards that this week when they face off in a classic matchup pitting grappler against striker as the opening round of The Ultimate Fighter tournament begins to wind down. Don’t miss a minute of the action with the second to last preliminary fight kicking off at 10 pm ET on FS1 tonight.