Zac Pauga is the first finalist of The Ultimate Fighter 30.
Team Julianna Peña’s second heavyweight selection secured a spot in the tournament finals with a dominant performance against teammate Jordan Heiderman (5-0) that was capped off by a stoppage via strikes in the second round. Pauga (5-0)* awaits the winner of the other semifinal, which sees Team Peña’s Mohammed Usman fight Team Amanda Nunes’ Eduardo Perez.
Right out of the gate, Pauga was the sharper fighter. He convincingly out-struck Heiderman in Round 1, stinging him with a big left hook and beating him to the punch at distance. The recent Cage Warriors and LFA competitor even broke out a spinning backfist to close out the opening frame.
Round 2 was more of the same and eventually Pauga landed another left hook that rocked Heiderman. Pauga followed up with punches to secure the TKO win. It was a bittersweet moment for Peña, who decided not to corner either fighter, instead flying in members of the fighters’ own coaching staffs from their respective home gyms.
In other drama, Team Peña’s Helen Peralta was confronted about drinking before a training session, which she attributed to being upset over losing so early in the show and not being part of the semifinals. Peña spoke to Peralta about the matter and Peralta later accused teammate Laura Gallardo of “snitching” on her. The matter appeared to be resolved amicably after Peralta, Gallardo, and other members of Team Peña talked it out.
This year’s coaches challenge saw Peña and Nunes compete in an axe-throwing competition. Nunes had a clear advantage having thrown axes at least once before, while Peña was attempting to do so for the first time. After four rounds of throwing, Nunes had a huge advantage on the scoreboard and Peña could not author a comeback in the fifth. With the win, Nunes earned a $10,000 prize and an extra $1,500 for each of her fighters.
Here are the semifinal matchups and results so far:
Zac Pauga def. Jordan Heiderman via TKO (strikes) (R2, time not announced)
Mohammed Usman vs. Eduardo Perez
Laura Gallardo vs. Brogan Walker
Juliana Miller vs. Kaytlin Neil
Here are the first-round results:
Zac Pauga def. Nyle Bartling via unanimous decision
Kaytlin Neil def. Helen Peralta via split decision
Mohammed Usman def. Mitchell Sipe via unanimous decision
Laura Gallardo def. Kathryn Paprocki via majority decision
Eduardo Perez def. Bobby Maximus via TKO (strikes) (R1, 3:58)
Juliana Miller def. Claire Guthrie via unanimous decision
Jordan Heiderman def. Chandler Cole via TKO (strikes) (R1, time not announced)
Brogan Walker def. Hannah Guy via majority decision
On next week’s episode, Team Peña’s Laura Gallardo fights Team Nunes’ Brogan Walker in the first flyweight semifinal.
(*TUF bouts are considered exhibitions and fighters’ pro records are not affected by the results on the show)
Season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter is coached by UFC bantamweight champion Julianna Peña and UFC featherweight champion Amanda Nunes. Peña defends her title against Nunes in a rematch that serves as the main event of UFC 277 on July 30 in Dallas.
The finalists of the TUF 30 heavyweight and flyweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract at a finale event with a date still to be announced.
New episodes premiere at midnight every Monday exclusively on ESPN+.
Here is the TUF 30 roster divided by team:
*replacement for Chantel Coates
Advancing to finals: Pauga
Advanced to semifinals: Pauga, Neil, Usman, Gallardo, Perez, Miller, Heiderman, Walker
Eliminated: Bartling, Peralta, Sipe, Coates, Paprocki, Maximus, Guthrie, Cole, Guy