TUF 28 Finale winner Leah Letson: Having a real team around made all the difference in the world
LAS VEGAS – Leah Letson’s time on “The Ultimate Fighter 28” didn’t go exactly as planned, but now that she’s been reunited with her coaches at Milwaukee’s Pura Vida Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the women’s featherweight believes she’s back on the right track.
“It’s completely different,” Letson (5-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) told MMAjunkie following her split-decision win over Julija Stoliarenko (4-3-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale. “Not having them there on the show was really hard for me. I’m really close to my coaches. We work together all the time, and they’re like my brothers, so to not have them there with me on the show was really hard.”
Letson made it to the semifinals of “TUF 28” before suffering a knockout loss to eventual season winner Macy Chiasson. But along the way, Letson expressed frustration with Team Whittaker’s approach to training, as well as being the lone native English speaker on the team.
Still, after being invited to appear on the show’s live finale, Letson knew she needed to take advantage of the opportunity. While Stoliarenko proved a tough customer, Letson was able to outwork her over the course of 15 minutes and take home the hard-fought result.
“I wanted to win,” Letson said. “I didn’t really care how I got it, and I was able to go all three rounds. My conditioning was great. I felt like I could go for five rounds, so it’s really nice to know that I have my conditioning to rely on and I can handle a back-and-forth war – so I’m really happy.”
Letson now owns an official five-fight winning streak, a run that also includes a win over four-time UFC veteran Elizabeth Phillips.
It’s a fine start to her octagon run, and while Letson knows there’s plenty of opportunity for growth, she believes her debut win proves she’s following the right path.
“Obviously there’s tons of room for improvement, but I’m rally happy that I came out with the win and that I was able to go all three rounds, even though it was a back-and-forth war,” Letson said. “I’m happy with how I did tonight, and I can’t wait to showcase more of my skills. I’ve been working on everything in the gym, and I put my heart and soul into this sport, and I can’t wait to showcase even more for the UFC.”
To hear more from Letson, check out the video above.