TUF 23 recap: The strawweights battle in their first fight of the season

This season, both the women’s strawweight division and the men’s light heavyweight division will be competing. At the end of the season, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha fight on the TUF 23 Finale with Joanna Champion defending her strawweight title.

Last week, Gadelha’s team won and picked Tatiana Suarez to face JJ Aldrich, putting the two #1 seeds on a collision course in only the show’s third week! 

This Week:

Jedrzejczyk is helping Aldrich work on the “small things” to get better. Helen Harper gets injured as they’re working on submissions. Jedrzejczyk gives her a pep talk but Harper is still feeling bummed and “a bit rubbish” even when she gets to the house. Rountree tells her he’s out and can’t even come back but she’s still in the hunt.

We switch to team Gadelha and Suarez talks about how she had to overcome a cancer diagnosis just to be where she is today. “I don’t really talk about it much with people because it’s something very very personal, but I believe if you continue to persevere you can get through anything.”

Cory Hendricks and Khalil Rountree are having a donut eating contest, and the loser has to get makeup done by the girls in the house, while the winner gets a sparkling golden donut. Joshua Stansbury is the emcee/announcer for the battle. Rountree finishes his pile of donuts first and is declared the winner – not shocking he was able to do it given he’s already out of competition and doesn’t have to worry about making weight. Or does he? You never know if me might come back as an alternate.

Back on team Jedrzejczyk we see Aldrich talk about how nobody who meets her believes she’s a fighter, but (cliche coming) getting in the cage “flips a switch.” She says to beat Suarez she’s going to have all the takedowns and light her up with strikes.

Time for the weigh-in! Aldrich is 115, Suarez is 115.5. Fight’s on! Dana White says that five years ago Suarez was the #1 wrestler in the U.S., but that you can’t count Aldrich out because she trains with Rose Namajunas, so he expects a classic fight.

It’s makeup time for Cory Hendricks. He also has to put on a Reebok sports bra. He says he’s not afraid to do it, but that it’s his own fault for underestimating Rountree’s eating abilities. Lanchana Green is impressed that he went all out. Hendricks says that he can’t figure out whether the guys are attracted or upset.

* Tatiana Suarez (Team Gadelha) vs. JJ Aldrich (Team Jedrzejczyk)

Aldrich is in the red and Suarez is in the black. Suarez shoots for the double, Aldrich sprawls at first, but Suarez gets her with the leg trip. She tries to scoot back to the fence to get up, gives up her head in the process, but ultimately gets to her feet. Suarez single legs her back down at 1:45after a warning not to grab the cage and quickly moves to her back looking for hooks. She goes for a choke with only one in and Aldrich escapes and stands back up. Aldrich tries to widen her stance but is taken down again at 2:58. You can see why Suarez comes so highly touted for her wrestling, and she’s bull strong too, able to just drag Aldrich to the ground when the obvious takedown technique isn’t there. She’s going for a standing guillotine with a minute left but Aldrich escapes and survives to R2.

Suarez got “a tiny little cut” in the first round which was so tiny I didn’t even see it in HD, and Gadelha tells her not to worry. Suarez has another takedown at 40 seconds. She’s quickly moving to side looking for the arm triangle. Aldrich escapes at 1:26 but Suarez is all over her from behind. Aldrich stands at 1:55 but is thrown down head first. Suarez gets the left hook and hammers away looking for the RNC.

She gets the second hook in and at 3:14 of R2 Aldrich taps – TEAM GADELHA WINS AGAIN.

Jedrzejczyk is disappointed that Aldrich didn’t scrap harder. Suarez is happy but knows she has two more fights to go. Jedrzejczyk tells all of her team to fight to the end no matter what. Claudia picks Andrew Sanchez to face Myron Dennis. See you next week!

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