The Ultimate Fighter - S23E03 & S23E04 Recaps

The two latest fights are Tatiana Suarez vs. J.J. Aldrich and Andrew Sanchez vs Myron Dennis. Both matches are expected to not only be real barn burners, but also classic "wrestler vs. striker" fights. Not everything goes as expected.

Episode 03 - Who Am I?

MATCH: Tatiana Suarez vs. J.J. Aldritch

Tatiana was the #1 ranked girl in freestyle wrestling when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She underwent treatment, overcame it, and believes now that she can handle anything life throws at her. Coach Claudia believes Tatiana will easily take J.J. to the mat, beat her up, and score a submission victory.

J.J. doesn't agree. She's been training Taekwondo since age 9 and says people often don't believe she's a cage fighter when they see her; she feels underestimated. She senses that people see her as an underdog in this fight, but she points out that Tatiana has only had 3 pro fights herself. Coach Joanna and J.J posit that Tatiana often shoots for a takedown when she gets hit; maybe Tatiana has a weak chin, and naturally J.J. focusing her training on keeping the fight standing.

When the fight comes, Tatiana immediately shoots for a takedown but J.J. defends it perfectly, sprawling her legs, and keeping the fight standing. Tatiana is relentless however, and after a few more attempts, she lifts J.J. up and slams her to her mat. When Tatiana wants you down, she makes it happen. Tatiana eventually sinks in a rear-naked choke and J.J. taps out.

Tatiana Suarez is as driven and accomplished as she is talented

Meanwhile, house antics continue. After last week's loss to Cory, Khalil challenges him to a donut-eating contest. Cory is in over his head as Khalil's big appetite gives him the win. Cory's punishment for losing is that he has to let the girls do his make-up. After a few awkward laughs, everyone seems to regret the whole affair and quickly move on. It seems the world is slowly buy surely growing out of Bosom Buddies-type gags if you can imagine that. I'm reminded of Iggy Pop's statement in this moment:

Episode 04 - Wake Up!

Coach Joanna, being extremely competitive, is very unhappy about her team's second loss and lectures them about effort: "you've got to want it," she says, and amounts the losses up to "stupid mistakes" and botching "very basic stuff," and generally reads her team the riot act. It seems like Coach Joanna is taking the losses very personal.

While some of Team Joanna claims to be not bothered by the scolding, everyone appears demoralized. At the house they form a group huddle, chant, and psych themselves up again. Team Claudia doesn't know about the scolding, so Andrew Sanchez reads their huddle chant as an attempt to intimidate him ahead of his upcoming match again Myron Dennis.

In a pleasant surprise, Coach Claudia comes to the house to prepare Brazilian barbecue, all smiles and hugs, offering words of support. Is Claudia doing this in reaction to Joanna's demoralizing rant? Either way, Claudia's looking like a saint while Joanna, an otherwise very popular champion, could be experiencing a drop in her fanbase (lots of negative Facebook chatter) now that people are seeing her less friendly side.

This negative reaction is unsurprising, but also worth examining. Particularly how people's expectations of a champion's conduct changes between men and women. The antics of UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor has earned him both scorn and praise from fans, making him possibly the biggest draw the UFC has had to date. While Joanna's stock has only seemed to suffering the negative effects.

Conor has made millions talking trash; Joanna isn't having the same results
While the coaches want each other's blood, their teams are having a great time pranking each other. This season's confirmed class clown Khalil hams it up, wearing a referee jersey and rushes Team Claudia out of the gym when their time training is up. Later, Team Claudia gets their revenge with a water balloon bombardment.

MATCH: Andrew "El Dirte" Sanchez vs. Myron "Light-skinned Dynamite" Dennis

Andrew, is a self-described "normal guy" who also happens to play a ukulele. He's become fast friends with housemate Amanda Cooper, who says she doesn't know anyone who works as hard as Andrew, despite only knowing him now for a few weeks. Meanwhile, Myron misses his wife, and has taped a picture of her to a water gallon jug, keeping it on the table while he eats Valentine's Day dinner. Aaron plays the ukulele while Myron speaks some romantic words to his gallon jug. Again, such friendly fighters and teams.

Claudia's pre-fight warm-up for Andrew involves throwing tennis balls at him (lol) while he tries to dodge them. Andrew thinks it's great as it gets him thinking and reacting, but it looks hilarious to me.

This match is sadly another lopsided affair and maybe didn't need to be. Andrew keeps Myron on the mat for the first round, but when Myron has a chance to unload his superior striking in the second, he just... doesn't. UFC President Dana White is flabbergasted that Myron isn't more active, and soon Andrew takes Myron to the mat again. Coach Joanna already knows her team has lost for the third time before the judges render the verdict in favor of Andrew.

Coach Joanna is not happy.

Next week's fight is the ladies once more: Lanchana Green vs. Helen Harper!

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