TUF 24 Recap: Page v Antolin

Episode three of ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions’ opened this week with a respectful stare down between number four ranked Damacio Page of Team Benavidez and number thirteen ranked Adam Antolin of Team Cejudo.

Once the two fighters split, Page engaged in some trash talk over how Cejudo pronounced his last name. Cejudo went on to reveal that the two were previously destined to meet under the Legacy FC banner for the flyweight title but pulled out of the fight due to contract negotiations with the UFC costing Page a pay day and shot at the title. Needless to say there is clear animosity brewing on Page’s end.

Next, highlights of Page brutally knocking out opponents are shown as Dana White expands upon the fighters rise through WEC and his eventual stint in the UFC. In 2010, Page joined the WEC and had seven fights within the promotion, including a fight against current 125-pound champ Demetrious Johnson, which he lost by third round submission. White subsequently makes the case for Page winning the first two rounds. “The Angel of Death” was then signed by the UFC, where he lost three consecutive times and was eventually released. Page then joined Legacy FC where he was able to win the belt with a vicious knockout to set up an opportunity on this season of TUF.

The focus then turns to Antolin, who is coming off a seven fight win streak. The Tachi Palace Fights champion is shown vigorously training as his voice reigns over the imagery, explaining his drive for combat. We are then exposed to multiple highlight moves inside the cage and Dana goes as far as to call him the “dark horse of the competition.”

The Team Cejudo coaches believe that Antolin can avoid the punching power of Page by utilising his movement and attack an exposed mid-section. Even with a prominent striking reputation, Team Cejudo trusts Antolin can beat his opponent on the feet.

Team Benavidez on the other hand considers Page to possess the clear advantage with his hands and recommends throwing a myriad of boxing combinations.

Right on cue, the head coaches begin to argue before the official weigh-ins. The verbal conflict continues on from Cejudo’s previous remarks about Benavidez being a poor role model. Benavidez defends his position and states his lack of desire to become a role model and calls Cejudo fake. The two seem to come to an understanding and accept they are on two different journeys. Both Page and Antolin make the 126lbs weight limit.

#4 Damacio Page (19-10) vs. #13 Adam Antolin (11-3)

Round 1 – Page comes out the aggressor and looks to press with the jab. Antolin attempts a head kick but over extends and slips before quickly regaining his feet. Antolin looks quite tentative compared to a Page who looks relaxed as he comfortably lets combinations fly. Page cracks his opponent with a hard right hand forcing Antolin to stumble backwards from the sheer power. The two exchange kicks and Antolin is able to fire a stinging body shot to the ribs. Antolin shoots for a take down and eats a glancing blow to the head and a body kick for his trouble. Page goes back to his boxing and lands a looping hook to the mid-section and follows up with a straight punch. Antolin returns with another body kick. As they meet in an exchange Page is able to land a swift uppercut that leads to some clear redness and swelling on the face of Antolin. At the midway point, Antolin is able to land a hard left-right that backs up the Legacy FC champ. Antolin’s confidence is rising as he becomes more comfortable throwing combinations resulting with a overhand right after countering a left hook that lands square on Page. A hard side kick to the stomach seems to damage Page but as he moves in he gets clipped with a straight. Antolin’s knees buckle but Page is unable to capitalise on the caused damage. Page is starting to land muliple hard punches and force Antolin into defence mode. Antolin comes close to a trip takedown but is met with an array of knees to the head. He makes a second grab for the takedown and is able to put Page on his back to end the round.

Round 2 – Antolin opens the second stanza by landing a spinning back kick followed by a combination of punches to the head. Page is forced back into the cage and when Antolin launches a left kick to the ribs, Page winces and falls to the ground. Before any real damage is done, referee Chris Tognani calls an end to the bout. Unsurprisingly, Page protests the stoppage and White calls it an appalling stoppage but acknowledges the great upset.

Following the fight, both fighters display contrasting emotions, and Page reveals he broke his hand in the first round leaving him out of action for several months.

Next week number two ranked Yoni Sherbatov of Team Cejudo will face number fifteen ranked Eric Shelton of Team Benavidez.