Chantel Coates and Brogan Walker, TUF 30 (The Ultimate Fighter 30)
Chantel Coates and Brogan Walker, TUF 30 face-off Credit: ESPN

Kicking off episode four of The Ultimate Fighter 30 — an injury. Brogan Walker, expected to fight in this week’s episode, has a bum knee. Now, she’s stuck waiting for the results of an MRI.

Chantel Coates, meanwhile, is looking at a 28.5 pound weight cut ahead of the fight, which coach Julianna Pena admits is a lot. “Our first objective here is to keep the fighters safe at any and all costs,” said Pena. A near-30 pound weight cut doesn’t lend itself to safety, and coach Rich Little says he’s never seen a woman successfully pull off a cut that big.

Well, things are off to a rocky start. Walker gets her results back, and is told she has an injury to her MCL. It’s a grade one tear, which is minor, so she should be able to work through it.

Ten minutes into the episode, entitled Opportunity Knocks, that’s the best news we’ve had. The news isn’t so good for Chantel Coates, whose team tells her “we have to pull out.” They’re shutting down her weight cut. That means she’s going home.

It’s not an easy pill for Coates to swallow — ahead of the show, she miscarried, and had to overcome COVID.

Laura Gallardo enters as the incoming replacement fighter, and Pena tells her that she could be fighting in a matter of days. The catch, however, is that Team Nunes had picked the match-up — so they can re-pick the fight. With Walker healing up from that MCL injury, extra time is key, so Kathryn Paprocki instead steps up to fight Gallardo.

We get a quick “get to know” session with Gallardo, whose parents wanted her to go into a more traditional field. Whoops. She trains under Joe “Daddy” Stevenson at Dan Henderson’s gym. Paprocki, meanwhile, says she’s prepared. “I’m down for the getdown, ya know?”

The Ultimate Fighter 30 Episode: Paprocki vs. Gallardo

Given that neither fighter competing in this episode had originally been picked for the fight, it was really anyone’s ballgame. Gallardo tied Paprocki up early; they’d eventually go down but get right back up. Again, Gallardo tied things up by the fence, and this time landed a few punches off the break.

Back at center, Paprocki got her jab going, and landed a step in elbow. She kept Gallardo at bay for a bit, but eventually, the newcomer closed the distance, put Paprocki on the fence then completed the takedown. She couldn’t keep Paprocki down, however. They’d scrap it out until the final 30 seconds or so, when Gallardo would put Paprocki on her back again.

Gallardo had the fight back to the ground early in round two. Paprocki employed a closed guard, and went hunting for a triangle. Gallardo survived, and passed into side control. Paprocki tried to buck her off; Gallardo fired a couple of knees to the body. Paprocki tried to scramble out, nearly gave up her back, and wound up with Gallardo in half guard. Another knee to the body landed for Gallardo, who nearly took the back shortly after. She wound up back in side control, then got mount late, finishing out a one-sided performance there.

Official Result: Laura Gallardo def. Kathryn Paprocki by majority decision

Gallardo picking up a majority decision indicates one judge had it a draw (one round each, with no third round required). Being honest, it never felt that close. Gallardo nearly had a 10-8 in the second. In any case, after stepping in on short notice, she moves forward in the tournament.

“Laura’s a little bad-ass, I like her a lot,” UFC President Dana White said after the fight. Not a bad compliment for your first time fighting in front of the boss.

Next week, it’s Bobby Maximus versus Eduardo Perez. That’s a 15-year plus age difference right there, with Maximus, 43, a veteran of TUF 2.

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