The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) combat sports reality show was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., May 4, 2016) for episode three of season 23, titled "Who I Am," coached by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and division No. 1 contender Claudia Gadelha.
If you missed last week's episode get up to speed right here.
We kick things off at the TUF gym and not much time is spent dwelling on last week's elimination fight, which saw Corey Hendricks eliminate Syndicate MMA teammate Khalil Rountree. Instead, Team Joanna is focusing getting their first win, which means J.J. Aldrich will have to defeat Team Claudia's Tatiana Suarez.
Aldrich hits the mitts and preps for her showdown.
During a grappling workout, Helen Harper is getting set up to be armbarred by Ashley Yoder and while it doesn't look to be anything egregious, Harper freaks out and rolls away in agony like she had her arm pretzel'd a la Rousey/Tate in Strikeforce.
Coach Jedrzejczyk assures her it's not serious and explains how people get roughed up in MMA but Harper looks to be breaking down. Based on last week's issues, she's either the unluckiest fighter on the roster, or a prime candidate for TUF 23 washout.
Rountree gives her a shoulder to cry on back at the house.
We switch gears to focus on Suarez, who talks about her career setback when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After surgery and radiation she battled her way back into combat sports where she now enjoys a renewed perspective on life.
It should be noted that tonight's fighters were both No. 1 picks and Suarez -- a decorated wrestler -- plans to get this fight to the ground to combat the experienced striking game of Aldrich.
Back at the house, Hendricks and Rountree have a doughnut-eating contest (five minutes to finish 12). Loser gets hair and make up done by female fighters and has to wear a sports bra. Winner -- which turns out to be Rountree -- gets a gold plated doughnut.
Hendricks receives his makeover and my god he is hideous. Like Vera de Milo hideous.
UFC President Dana White decides to not-so-subtly work some product placement into the show and sends a copy of the new DOOM first-person shooter video game for everyone to play. The contestants dutifully crowd around the flat screen TV and shout things like sick graphics! and freakin' sweet! so that you, the viewer, will run down to GameStop and pre-order a copy.
Time for the weigh ins and both fighters hit their respective marks without incident.
Let's do this. Hey look, it's Robbie Lawler!
115 lbs.: Tatiana Suarez (Team Gadelha) vs. J.J. Aldrich (Team Jedrzejczyk)
Round 1: As expected, Aldrich comes out swinging early and often. Suarez tries to hold her own but eventually looks for the shoot. She changes levels but is denied. She tries again and Aldrich sprawls accordingly, but Suarez is way too strong and just blasts right through her and trips her to the ground. Aldrich scrambles and gets locked in a front choke but gets to her feet and escapes. Suarez grabs her and dumps her to the floor again and takes her back. Punches from the top. Suarez sinks hooks in and goes for the choke but it's not on the neck and Aldrich escapes. Back to the feet and Suarez relentless with wrestling. Aldrich goes down but once again pops up after eating a few punches. Suarez with a choke -- lots of them, actually -- but she can't get Aldrich to tap. Suarez is cut somewhere. Aldrich gets to her feet but can't do much because she's pinned to the cage. 10-9 Suarez.
Round 2: We basically have a repeat of round one. Aldrich comes out firing punches and Suarez can't strike with her so she fires off a takedown and drags the fight to the floor. Suarez working from half guard until Aldrich gives up her back. Not much coaching from Jedrzejczyk outside of "Fight J.J., fight!" Suarez landing some hard shots from behind. Aldrich gets to her feet and gets slammed back down, hitting the side of her noggin on the canvas. She's simply no match for the smothering power of her opponent. She needs a Plan B or this fight is hopeless. That said, the onus is on Suarez to get the finish considering the number of dominant positions she's been able to achieve. Just as I type that, she manages to get Aldrich flattened out and sink in the rear-naked choke.
Final result: Suarez def. Aldrich via submission
Here's where we stand after episode three:
Tatiana Suarez (w)
Cory Hendricks (w)
After the fight, Coach Jedrzejczyk (unfairly?) criticizes Aldrich for giving up and proceeds to tell the viewers what she would have done in that scenario. She also tells her team that skill and experience have no affect on the outcome of a fight, it only matters what's in your heart and mind.
Um ... okay.
Coach Gadelha retains control of the fight picks and chooses Andrew Sanchez from her squad to fight Myron Dennis, right after she's done arguing with Jedrzejczyk. Who will emerge victorious?
Find out next week!