The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) combat sports reality show was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., June 15, 2016) for episode nine of season 23 titled "Beast Inside of You," 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.
It's the final fight of the elimination round and now that Team Joanna has its first win, it's time to try for back-to-back victories as Ashley Yoder looks to land the remaining 115-pound semifinal birth at the expense of Team Claudia's Kate Jackson.
If Jackson wins, all of Team Joanna's strawweights will be eliminated from the competition.
Before we get to that, it's time to check in on the injured Cory Hendricks, who is still suffering from arm and shoulder pain. His pending MRI will tell us if and when the Syndicate MMA product will be able to compete in the light heavyweight semifinals.
If Hendricks is bounced, that opens the door for an eliminated 205-pounder to return.
We start to get a closer look at Yoder, who flew under the radar for most of the season. She explains to her fellow contestants about the day her brother was killed and as expected, it's awful and sad. That said, it helped lead her to MMA where she was able to find herself.
Coach Jedrzejczyk believes Yoder is the more skilled fighter.
On the other side of the gym we get a look at Jackson's training regimen and it's revealed she has a 2013 loss to Jedrzejczyk, but one that made her grow as a fighter. I guess the best revenge would be to win the TUF 23 tournament and get that rematch in 2017.
It all starts with Yoder. Coach Gadelha wants this fight taken to the ground.
The doctor stops by the TUF gym to give Hendricks the lowdown on his bum neck. He doesn't have any serious damage and may be able to correct his current condition with a mixture of pain relievers (ibuprofen) and physical therapy. The answer on his ability to compete will be known by next week.
Because this season ends with both coaches fighting in the championship main event of the July 8 finale in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha must also get their fight camps in while coaching their TUF squads. Gadelha insists she lost their first fight as the result of poor judging.
Joanna's answer to that? "Beetch, I gunna cut your head, July 8, be ready."
Fight day is here and we learn that Yoder will be eating lots of carbs, while Jackson plans to walk out with the Cornish flag. Riveting! Both combatants say lots of MMA-ish type things like "this is my time" and "my focus is 100 percent" because no one wants to say "I'm scared shitless."
Coach Gadelha is lurking in the background wearing a trench coat that makes her look like Inspector Gadget in drag.
Let's do it!
115 lbs.: Ashley Yoder (Team Joanna) vs. Kate Jackson (Team Claudia)
Round 1: No touch of gloves and Jackson starts walking her down. Yoder jumps into her for what looks like a bear hug and Jackson slams her to the ground and lands in guard. Yoder throws her legs up and Jackson is stymied with a body lock, albeit temporarily. Referee John McCarthy warns them for inactivity. Jackson postures up and gets several heel kicks to the face, despite having both knees on the ground. McCarthy begrudgingly offers a warning. Jackson dives back in and Yoder tries to lock up an armbar. McCarthy asking for some work. Jackson just sitting there with her arm trapped. McCarthy asks for action and gets none. This is a stalemate and neither fighter wants to give up position. McCarthy still chirping. The round ends with Jackson escaping. That was weird. I can't score this dumb round. 10-9 Jackson is my best guess. McCarthy warns Yoder for the heel kicks in between frames.
Round 2: Jackson walks her down and Yoder tries to keep her at bay with high kicks. Jackson runs in and gets the clinch but fails on her takedown attempt. Yoder busy with her hands but not landing much. Jackson again pushes her way in and takes the fight to the fence, but a takedown attempt leaves Yoder on top. Jackson quickly reverses and holy shit we're back to the armbar attempt that Jackson blocks. They just kinda hang out there for awhile and McCarthy wants them to work. Jackson muscles back to guard but does not improve her position and gets stood up. After a few seconds standing, she clinches and goes to the wall. This fight sucks. Yoder breaks free and Jackson lands a nice headlock, but her follow up takedown is denied. Both fighters look gassed. Yoder rushes in and tries to clinch but Jackson shucks her off, with a little help from the cage. Sloppy kickboxing until the round ends. 10-9 Jackson.
Final result: Jackson def. Yoder via unanimous decision
Here's where we stand after episode nine:
Joshua Stansbury (w)
Jamie Moyle Khalil Rountree Ashley Yoder Myron Dennis Helen Harper Elias Urbina
Tatiana Suarez (w)
Andrew Sanchez (w)
Kate Jackson (w)
Eric Spicely (w)
Amanda Cooper (w)
Lanchana Green (w)
Cory Hendricks (w)
Team Claudia wins the elimination round by a score of 7-1.
After the fight, the focus switches to the semifinals. Unlike past seasons, the coaches won't get together with UFC President Dana White to brainstorm about possible match ups. Instead, White has already gone ahead and made his selections and not surprisingly, most of the contestants from Team Claudia will be fighting one another.
TUF 23 semifinal match ups:
205 lbs.: Andrew Sanchez vs. Eric Spicely
115 lbs.: Amanda Cooper vs. Lanchana Green
205 lbs.: Joshua Stansbury vs. Cory Hendricks
115 lbs.: Tatyana Suarez vs. Kate Jackson
Andrew Sanchez vs. Eric Spicely kicks off the light heavyweight semifinals next week, we learn the fate of Cory Hendricks, and the coaches challenge separates the women from the girls.
See you in seven!