‘TUF 23’ Recap: Episode 12

By Mike Sloan Jul 6, 2016
In the concluding episode of the season, two crucial fights will take place tonight to decide the finals of “The Ultimate Fighter 23” Finale.

On the women’s side, Team Claudia’s Tatiana Suarez will lock horns with teammate Kate Jackson while on the men’s side of things, Team Joanna’s Josh Stansbury will oppose replacement Khalil Rountree.

As the show begins, it’s daytime at the TUF house and Amanda Cooper, who already punched her ticket to the finals, cannonballs herself into the pool and splashes fellow finalist Andrew Sanchez. After that, Suarez and Jackson are lounging by the hot tub and chatting about things. Both ladies are confident of victory, though they admit it’s a bit awkward because not only have they been teammates all season, they’ve also shared a bedroom in the house.

At Team Claudia’s next training session, coach Claudia Gadelha is discussing the upcoming bout to the camera and can’t predict a winner. Jackson says that she is not intimidated by Suarez but is wary of her foe’s wrestling. Suarez, meanwhile, believes she is training “way harder” than the Brit and this victory means much more to her after what she’s been through.

After both women make weight and several clips of training, prepping and speaking about how focused they are, it’s time for Suarez and Jackson to finally determine will who oppose Cooper in the finals. UFC President Dana White is giddy beyond belief for this matchup and, like Gadelha, can’t figure out who will win.

Herb Dean is the referee for their tussle and right away, Suarez is aggressive. Jackson backs away to keep a distance, but the cancer survivor closes the gap with a nasty leg kick and scores a takedown roughly 25 seconds into the match. Suarez winds up in side control and tosses out a few decent punches, but Jackson eventually is able to recover to half guard. Suarez is trying to pass to her left and softens her opponent with some short punches and elbows, but Jackson’s defense is solid.

The Brit eventually scoots her back to the cage and tries to wall walk, but Suarez is all over her and latches on a tight guillotine. Jackson is in serious peril and tries like hell to escape, but once the former wrestling champion drags her back down, guillotine firmly intact, Jackson has no choice but to tap out, ending the fight in about three minutes. Just like that, Suarez advances to the Finale to fight Cooper.

After polar opposite emotions pour into the camera from both women, the show moves its attention to the men’s semifinals. Stansbury is excited about taking on Rountree, though he seems a bit bummed that his original opponent, Cory Hendricks, had to withdraw thanks to his nagging neck and shoulder injury. And while both men are pumped for the chance to fight Sanchez in the finals, they are not the least concerned about their friendship that has blossomed while in the house.

Per the norm, both men weigh-in on the money and after several clips of their training and explaining their gameplans with the viewing audience, it’s time to determine the winner of the final fight of the season.

Jason Herzog is ref for this one and as soon as the skirmish begins, Stansbury fires off a leg kick, only to be countered by a hard straight left and vicious kick to the gut from Rountree. Stansbury shoots in immediately after tasting his foe’s power but he’s stuffed. When they resume, a left hand to the dome drops Rountree, but he’s not terribly hurt and quickly springs back up to his feet. Rountree is in terminate mode at this point, launching a furious assault of kicks and punches with all of his might, though Stansbury is able to block them all.

About two minutes in, the local fighter is starting to slow down while Stansbury maintains a distance and is looking to make simple contact with his strikes. A double jab-overhand right by Stansbury is clean, but Rountree absorbs the punches nicely, but he begins bleeding from his nostrils. A Stansbury shin explodes on Rountree’s ribs and with two minutes left, a bloodied Khalil is already gasping for air. Stansbury pops his adversary with a few more stiff jabs, which continue to rattle Roundtree, who looks like he’s gassing out.

With just under a minute left, though, Rountree turns the tables and floors Stansbury with a perfect straight left to the jaw. Stansbury is rocked badly and when he pops back up to his feet, he’s met with a front kick to the chest. Rountree explodes with a volley of punches and when one of his right hands connects, Stansbury is down again. He covers up against the cage in an attempt to survive, but he’s too woozy and eats too many punches before the fight is stopped, allowing Rountree to advance to the Finale to fight Sanchez.

As the show winds down to its final minutes, White has the four finalists pose for their customary staredown photos and then, as expected, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha enter the Octagon for theirs. Immediately, the hated rivals are in each other’s faces and talking trash and when White breaks them up, the Pole swats the Brazilian with a right to the chest and a fight nearly breaks out. The two continue to threaten each other, but the all-out brawl that allegedly broke out after the filming stopped is not aired whatsoever.

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