TUF 23 REPORT 4/20: Penick’s random thoughts report for episode one of “Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia”

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

The Ultimate Fighter is back, with Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha serving as this season’s coaches. We’ll be recapping this season’s episodes with random musings, descriptions, and fight thoughts every week, starting with tonight’s two-hour premiere. Tonight brings 16 light heavyweights and 16 strawweights fighting to get into the house and into the official tournament for TUF 23.

-We get the typical set-up for the season and the coaches feud, with Gadelha saying Jedrzejczyk knows she lost their first fight. Pretty quickly we get to the first of 16 fights on this episode:

Fight: Mellony Geugjes vs. Amanda Cooper – Invicta vet Cooper made relatively quick work of Dutch kickboxer Geugjes on the ground. Guegjes did well initially on the feet, sending Cooper to the ground, but Cooper worked nicely from her back, caught Geugjes with an armbar, and forced the tap. Cooper moves on via first round submission

Fight: Eric Spicely vs. Kenneth Bergh – Another extremely quick fight. Spicely scored a quick takedown, got Bergh’s back, locked on a rear naked choke, and scored the tap. Nice work. Spicely moves on via first round submission

Fight: Ashley Cummins vs. Lanchana Green – We get another Invicta vet in Cummins here, though her time in that organization has her on a three fight pro losing streak. To be fair, it’s come against some very good fighters, including Alexa Grasso and current UFC fighter Joanne Calderwood. She controlled Green on the ground for much of the first round, though little happened for the first three minutes there. She got Green’s back a couple of times in transition, and ended the first round with a tight choke attempt, but Green survived to the second round. Green did some damage early in the second, then defended multiple takedowns. Green then destroyed Cummins with a ridiculous series of knees, finishing her off with several combinations into even more knees. Glorious violence from Green. Dammit that was fun, and one hell of a turnaround. Green moves on via second round TKO

-Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas has three different fighters competing to get in the house on this episode, and their coach John Wood is given a little camera time, as well as the gym itself. First up from the gym is Khalil Rountree.

Fight: Khalil Rountree vs. Muhammed Dereese – Dereese had a grappling edge in the first round, but wasn’t able to actually do much. Rountree then absolutely demolished him in the second round. He hurt Dereese badly early with a head kick, landed some big strikes, sent him to the ground, and landed some nasty soccer kicks to the body to force the stoppage. Brutality. Rountree moves on via second round TKO

Rountree after said he got pissed Dereese tried to choke him out, so he took his frustrations out with those kicks at the end. Nicely played, sir.

Fight: Alyssa Krahn vs. Jamie Moyle – Moyle is the second from Syndicate here after Rountree, and she’s another Invicta vet as well. Krahn controlled three fourths of the opening round on the ground, though Moyle continuously attacked off her back. Moyle then took Krahn’s back late in the round, methodically worked to the rear naked choke, and forced the tap. Nice work. Moyle moves on via first round submission

Fight: Myron Dennis vs. Jamelle Jones – Some of the worst looking striking from both seen in a while, even on TUF, but Dennis did damage late in the round, and after getting off the ground and hurting Jones, he finished things off. Worst fight of the episode thus far. Dennis moves on via first round TKO

Fight: Ashley Yoder vs. Jodie Esquibel – Esquibel is really good friends with Holly Holm and the fiance of UFC-vet Keith Jardine. Feisty first round. Lots of offense from both fighters, and Esquibel nearly finished it late. Dan Henderson was cheering on Yoder. Esquibel seemed to get the best of the second round from what was shown, but everything was close and could have brought a third round. Somehow Yoder got the nod! Woooooow. Yeah, I didn’t agree with the decision, and neither did Dana White, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Claudia Gadelha. At worst should have been a third round; did not think Yoder won the first at all, but she got the split nod to move on. Real bad break for Esquibel. Yoder moves on via split decision

Fight: Norman Paraisy vs. Elias Urbina IV – Paraisy recounted his time on TUF 11 where he quit on the stool in between rounds in the elimination fight, and he was out to have a much better showing. Urbina talked about his brother Hector getting into the UFC through TUF. They showed highlights, with Dana White talking about the fight, giving Paraisy the first, Urbina the second, and how Paraisy had a chance to redeem himself, but went down again. White essentially shit all over the fight, and both fighters, saying Paraisy gave up again, and Urbina didn’t have the skill to finish it up. Urbina moves on via unanimous decision

Fight: JJ Aldrich vs. Kristi Lopez – More highlights. White talked up Aldrich – a teammate of Rose Namajunas – and her offense, and from what was shown she did a lot more offensively. She got what seemed to be a clear decision win. Aldrich moves on via unanimous decision

Fight: Abdel Medjedoub vs. John Paul Elias – More highlights. White called it one-sided with Medjedoub taking Elias down and beating him up for two rounds. Elias’ claim to fame was his high school sweetheart wife being Playboy’s Miss October in 2013. Medjedoub moves on via unanimous decision

Fight: Tatiana Suarez vs. Chel-C Bailey  – Suarez is a cancer survivor and says she feels like she’s fighting for her life every time out. Bailey is friends with Miesha Tate and Bryan Caraway. But she spells her name Chel-C. Seriously now. Fast hands from Bailey early. Suarez tried to grab a choke, but lost position on the roll through. Only part of the round was shown, so hard to say who won, but it was probably Suarez. Second round also not shown in its entirety, but Suarez ended it by getting mount and landing strikes. Probably her fight. Suarez moves on via unanimous decision

Fight: Phillip Hawes vs. Andrew Sanchez – Hawes is a training partner of Jon Jones at Jackson-Winkeljohn’s in Albuquerque. He gets talked up quite a bit prior to the bout. Sanchez is a BJJ practitioner who won first place in the purple belt heavyweight category at the IBJJAF worlds in 2015. Lots of talk about the buzz over Hawes as highlights play. Sanchez seemed to defend a takedown well in the first round with a ton of elbows. White said Sanchez got the best of Hawes throughout, while Jedrzejczyk talked up Sanchez’ intelligence in the fight. White said Hawes didn’t live up to the hype in the fight. Sanchez moves on via unanimous decision

Fight: Irene Cabello Rivera vs. Kate Jackson – More highlights, with Jackson essentially dominating in the first and finishing it off by TKO in the second. Jackson moves on via second round TKO

Fight: Cory Hendricks vs. Marcel Fortuna – Hendricks is the final of three Syndicate MMA competitors trying to get in the house. Both of his teammates already made it. They showed only highlights again with a Dana White voice over. Hendricks drew praise from White and Jedrzejczyk, and his takedown defense seemed to be a a major factor in the first. They get a third round as Fortuna had a strong second, and it was Hendricks simply out-working in the final frame. Hendricks moves on via unanimous decision

White on Hendricks-Fortuna: “They were gassed, but they kept trying to do everything they could to win.

Fight: Amy Montenegro vs. Helen Harper – Harper says she entered MMA after learning how to defend herself while in the midst of an abusive relationship. Montenegro is one of the older competitors on the show this season. Harper had a clear grappling edge in the fight, and after several scrambles and positional changes she caught Montenegro in an excellent armbar. Good work. Harper moves on via first round submission

Fight: Josh Stansbury vs. Trevor Carlson – Stansbury was on season 19 of TUF, but blew out his knee in the elimination round, so this is a second chance opportunity for the Ohio native. Stansbury caught Carlson with an off balance head kick, but pounced immediately after he had him hurt. Carlson managed to recover on the ground, but Stansbury set up a nasty Americana and forced a tap. Good work, and a nice comeback story after the TUF 19 injury. Stansbury via first round submission

This season’s lineup in the house:

Strawweight Field – Amanda Cooper, Lanchana Green, Jamie Moyle, Ashley Yoder, JJ Aldrich, Tatiana Suarez, Kate Jackson, Helen Harper

Light Heavyweight Field – Eric Spicely, Khalil Rountree, Myron Dennis, Elias Urbina IV, Abdel Medjedoub, Andrew Sanchez, Cory Hendricks, Josh Stansbury

-Coaches pick time. Gadelha wins the coin toss and takes the first fighter, and she took Joanna’s first choice Here’s the breakdown for TUF 23

Team Claudia: Tatiana Suarez, Andrew Sanchez, Kate Jackson, Eric Spicely, Amanda Cooper, Abdel Medjedoub, Lanchana Green, Cory Hendricks

Team Joanna: JJ Aldrich, Josh Stansbury, Jamie Moyle, Khalil Rountree, Ashley Yoder, Myron Dennis, Helen Harper, Elias Urbina IV

-Dana White: “So you guys made it in the house. Now the hard part starts.”

Jedrzejczyk gets the fight pick to start off, and she takes Khalil Rountree against Cory Hendricks. White notes that Hendricks had a bad contusion on the top of his foot after his elimination round fight, so they will be keeping an eye out on the issue into the first fight. Also of note, that means the first fight of the season pits two actual teammates against one another right off the bat. That’s next week, so tune back in then for our report!

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