The Ultimate Fighter - S23E01 "Ladies and Gents" - Women's Fight Recaps

The latest season of The Ultimate Fighter is here! The TUF coaches for this season are the Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and her rival Claudia Gadelha. The tension is palatable as Joanna and Claudia exchange some perfunctory greetings before settling in for a long but exciting day of watching exhibition fights, the winners of which gain entry to the TUF house.

They're joined by UFC President Dana White, who looks like a kid that can't wait to open his birthday presents; he's very interested in seeing which fighters can handle the pressure and which can not.

This first recap is extra long as we have a total of eight women's elimination bouts.

Women's Strawweight Elimination Bouts

Mellony Geuejes (0-1) vs. Amanda Cooper (1-1)

The interplay of fight styles displayed in this match encapsulates mixed-martial arts competition, making this an ideal way to start the show.

The fight starts with Mellony displaying superior striking (she has been a kickboxer since thirteen), but when she throws Amanda off-balance, Mellony makes the mistake of following her to the ground. Amanda's strength is in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and she immediately locks in an armbar, forcing Mellony to tap out in the first round.

Ashley Cummins (3-3) vs. Lanchana Green (2-1)

Ashley is a cop from St. Louis and Lanchana is a gym owner from England. In their pre-fight interviews, Ashley talks about the stress of duty, and seems wide-eyed and intense. Lanchana is more relaxed, talking about her gym and her life as English-born Taiwanese woman.

Round one, Ashley unequivocally dominates Lanchana, controlling her with wrestling and ground strikes, with Lanchana narrowly escaping a choke. Dana White remarks how the fight seems over, but in round two Lanchana rallies spectacularly, defending Ashley's attempts to take her to the mat and then unleashing a fury of perfect Thai kickboxing strikes while holding Ashley in the clinch. When the referee determines that Ashley is rocked and no longer defending herself intelligently, he stops the fight to prevent unnecessary injury. Lanchana wins by TKO.

A talented and gutsy fighter, Lanchana Green is one to watch.

This was an amazing fight. Dana is on his feet, calling it one of the most impressive wins he's ever seen on The Ultimate Fighter and the biggest comeback win he's ever seen. Period.

Alyssa Krahn (3-1) vs. Jamie Moyle (3-1)

Alyssa is a financial planner by day, MMA fighter by night. She says she wants to represent Canadian Women's MMA and proving people wrong is what she does best. Jamie Moyle is tiny compared to most of the other girls, but explains that she has good fight experience and has even fought and beat several of the girls here. After a good scrap, Jamie is left the one proving the doubters wrong with superior wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Win by submission, rear-naked choke.

Ashley Yoder (4-1) vs. Jodie Esquibel (5-1)

Both Ashley and Jodie have interesting stories and powerful mentors on their side. Jodie is friends with Holly Holm (ex-UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion) and engaged to Keith Jardine, a celebrated UFC alumni. Ashley, who trains with UFC legend Dan Henderson, shares the tragic story of her brother's death in a car accident. This loss led Ashley to begin fight training, which gave her a chance to beat on things without having to explain why she was so mad at the world.

Ashley and Jodie go to war for two rounds, trading blows and scrambling through take downs. Dana is expecting it to go to a third, tie-breaking round and Keith Jardine thinks Jodie has clinched the win from two rounds. The judges however surprise everyone by not going to a third round and giving the win to Ashley. Joanna and Claudia gape in astonishment at the controversial decision.

An emotional win for Ashley and a heartbreaking, controversial loss for Jodie.

In the winning corner, Ashley is weeping in happiness so much that the doctor has to ask her a few times if she's alright. In the other corner, Jodie learns the classic MMA adage first hand: "Never leave it in the hands of the judges." You have to finish the fight, because judges can make some really bad calls. Dana tells Jodie she got robbed, her fiance Keith Jardine is bewildered and disgusted.

J.J. Aldrich (2-1) vs. Kristy Lopez (2-0)

J.J. Aldrich trains with Rose Namajunas (a ranked and quickly rising star in the UFC Women's Strawweight division) and seems to have the same fast and effective striking as her. In a quick and lop-sided affair, J.J. dominates Kristy over two rounds and J.J. wins by unanimous decision

Tatiana Suarez (3-0) vs. Chel-C Bailey (2-0)

Tatiana is a cancer survivor who equates her cancer struggle to her fights in the ring. Chel-C is a small and spirited fighter with the good fortune having her close friend UFC Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate present to advise her. In the fight, Dana is impressed with Tatiana's takedowns and Joanna likes her boxing. Chel-C is scrappy and lands some early shots, but ultimately Tatiana is too big and too strong for her. Tatiana easily dominates two rounds for the win, but remains disappointed in her performance. This lady is dead serious.

Irene Cabello Rivera (6-2) vs. Kate Jackson (7-1)

European ladies are representing again, with Irene from Spain and Kate from Great Britain. Kate looks strong and Joanna notices she likes to clinch up with her opponent to control the fight. The second round is more domination from Kate, as Irene gets out-wrestled and pounded. Kate wins by TKO.

Amy Montenegro (7-2) vs. Helen Harper (4-1)

Helen, an unknown in the fight world, is from a small, nowhere town in England. She tells us about how she began fight training after surviving an abusive relationship, in part "to avoid ever being in that place again." She comes into the fight with an optimistic outlook and impresses everyone with her excellent wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.

She takes Amy to the ground and secures an arm lock where Amy makes a desperate bid to escape by lifting Helen up and slamming her. Helen doesn't let go and Amy soon taps out. Claudia is impressed and Dana is fan-girling over this unknown ingenue, "She looked awesome."

Dana White loves these new athletes.

Team Selection

Claudia Gadhela wins the coin toss, giving her the option to choose either the first fighter or the first fight. She opts for choosing Tatiana as her first fighter; Claudia says she felt Tatiana had a lot of personality and a solid fight game; Joanna is disappointed to not get her. Joanna picks J.J. as her first pick and one by one, they fill out their teams.

Team Claudia:
  • Tatiana Suarez
  • Kate Jackson
  • Amanda Cooper
  • Lanchana Green
Team Joanna:
  • J.J. Aldrich
  • Jamie Moyle
  • Ashley Yoder
  • Helen Harper

With the first episode in the books and some amazing competitors in the house, I'm very exciting for this new season. In the post-show TUF Talk, Team coach Claudia was interviewed by FOX Sports anchor Karyn Bryant and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier about the upcoming season. They get on Skype with Joanna and the two verbally spar. The tension between them is very real and apparently, as the season wrapped filming, the tension overflowed and they had an actual "full-blown fist fight" before it was broken up.

Simply put, these ladies are hardcore.

Adrian Martinez is a graphic designer, comic book letterer, hobbyist writer, and all-around geek living in New York City.