Sijara Eubanks walked on to the set of “The Ultimate Fighter 26” with a fight already booked against the scale.
At 136 pounds, she had to cut 10 pounds just to step into the octagon against Maia Stevenson. Her coach, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, thought it was a tough ask.
When Eubanks Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) stopped sweating at 126.5, one half-pound from the limit for non-title exhibition bouts, Eubanks proved she’d do anything to fight.
She cut her dreadlocks.
“No one thought I was going to make the weight,” Eubanks told MMAjunkie. “It was super dramatic.”
The actual fight was less so. Evenly matched with Stevenson (6-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the feet, Eubanks was a better grappler. By the end of the first round, she was pounding Stevenson from top position, threatening a stoppage.
When the second-round bell rang, Eubanks figured she’d use what worked and took the fight back down. A kimura followed.
“I’ve hit a kimura so many times in jiu-jitsu,” she said. “I just knew it was going to be there. The position she was in on the ground, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, she’s going to give me this kimura.’”
With Stevenson’s tap, Eubanks ran to the cage and yelled a number at UFC President Dana White – 12, for her seed number in a tournament of 16 fighters. Her performance was anything but middle of the road against Stevenson, who was seeded No. 5.
Now, Eubanks moves on to the next challenge of “TUF” – getting to the finals.
Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.