‘TUF 23’ Recap: Episode 3

By Mike Sloan May 4, 2016
This week’s episode begins with J.J. Aldrich training alongside Joanna Jedrzejczyk and her other coaches, prepping for her fight with Tatiana Suarez. Jedrzejczyk calls Suarez a beast and is super excited to see her fight, but she understands how important is the outcome of matchup. There appears to be a sense of doubt in the voice and body language of the UFC women’s strawweight champion when she speaks, though she’s saying the right things to the camera.

Meanwhile, Helen Harper is rolling with Ashley Yoder, and when Yoder gets mount, she pulls off a straight armbar. However, before she is able to tap out, Harper’s right elbow pops. She’s hurt but sucking it up, trying to fight through it. On top of it all, she still sounds like utter crap thanks to her bronchitis. Naturally, Harper is frustrated and emotional, on the verge of a breakdown. Jedrzejczyk is there for her, sitting next to her and coaching the contestant through her turmoil, but the head coach seems a little irritated at what could be looked at as weakness.

Team Claudia is training next, and Suarez is explaining to viewers that she was the top-ranked female in freestyle wrestling when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2011. She had to go through surgery and chemo but doesn’t give much detail because it’s very personal to her.

Khalil Roundtree and Cory Hendricks make a personal challenge to each other regarding a donut-eating contest. The winner gets to wear a golden donut medallion with sparkles, while the loser has to wear makeup done by one of the girls in the house. Each fighter has 12 donuts on a plate and will try to eat as many as they can within five minutes. Rountree winds up winning the duel, and now Hendricks must get makeup done by the girls. Rountree gets the golden donut medallion and wears it proudly throughout the house.

The next day, after Jedrzejczyk tells the camera that she needs Aldrich to stay on her feet against Suarez, a “Doom” action figure appears on the pool table with a letter from UFC President Dana White beside it. It says that he is impressed by the fighters’ work ethic, so they get to play a sneak peak of the new “Doom” game on Xbox One. Everybody playing the game is stoked about how it looks and plays. Apparently everybody gets a copy of the game, which is a cool prize for those who love to lay waste to virtual monsters and whatnot.

At the weigh-ins, the teams are in the hallway, per the norm. Claudia Gadelha walks past Jedrzejczyk closely; the Pole stares at her and chuckles. Surprisingly, nothing is said. When they walk into the gym, Gadelha “accidentally” bumps into her rival, but tempers stay cool. Both fighters weigh in on point and the staredown is intense.

After another commercial break, it’s time for Hendricks to have his makeup applied. Amanda Bobby Cooper is applying it and he’s nervous about it, asking if it’ll wash out or if it’s somehow going to be permanent. Everybody is laughing at him, especially after he has to wear a sports bra. Hendricks stuffs an apple into each cup and then struts around the house with his face looking like more like one of those “exotic” escorts than a professional MMA fighter. It’s comedy gold.

Finally, it’s fight day. Before the fighters walk out to the Octagon, current UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and Hall of Famer Matt Hughes pop into the locker rooms to give support and well wishes to both combatants.

The battle begins with both women tossing out a few jabs early. There’s a left leg kick by Aldrich before Suarez shoots in. She’s stuffed but fights through it before finally taking her down with a trip. Suarez crushes her foe into the cage but loses side control when Aldrich pops up and peeks out. Suarez threatens with a guillotine, even after they stand back up but loses it after a terse battle for position. After Suarez bails on the choke, she shoots in again and gets a hard takedown to side control and then to Aldrich’s back. She gets her left hook in and softens her up with some punches from behind before slapping on a rear-naked choke attempt. It’s just off-center and not deep enough and eventually Aldrich fights it off, getting back to her feet. However, Suarez is all up in her business and it’s not long before she takes her down again. Aldrich struggles back to her feet again but Suarez has her from behind and again drags her to the canvas. She slaps on a brabo choke but Aldrich is fending it off. Back up, Suarez goes for another standing guillotine but again Aldrich fights out of it. Times expires as Suarez is crushing her in the clinch against the cage. It’s an easy 10-9 round for Suarez, and Aldrich clearly needs to change up her game plan going into the second.

Just before the next frame begins, it’s revealed that Suarez has a small cut around her right eye, though it’s not yet turned into anything to worry about. Aldrich lands a few decent punches early, but Suarez gets in a few low kicks of her own. Suarez shoots in and takes her down rather easily, continuing the same plan of attack as in the previous stanza. Suarez is smothering Aldrich from half guard before Aldrich rolls over and turtles up. Suarez slams a few punches from behind into her foe’s head after she gets one hook in. Aldrich gets to her feet but is immediately slammed back to the canvas, unable to fend off the awesome wrestling skills of her counterpart.

Suarez quickly takes her back and gets her left hook in and begins landing a few scattered punches from behind. Aldrich has nothing in response other than to cover up and wait for an opening to explode back to her feet. At this point, it seems helpless for Aldrich, who looks mentally defeated. It’s not long before Suarez latches on a rear-naked choke but unlike the one from the first, this one is tight. Aldrich fends it off as long as she can, but eventually, she is forced to tap out, ending the fight and allowing Suarez to advance to the next round.

After the fight, Jedrzejczyk is very disappointed. She tells the camera that Aldrich gave up in the fight, irritating the coach. Aldrich is devastated while Jedrzejczyk consoles her, and the whole team is depressed. Jedrzejczyk says to the viewing audience at home that she “cannot take responsibility for [her] fighters when they are fighters.”

At the next fight announcement, Gadelha still has control and goes with her own Andrew Sanchez to take on Jedrzejczyk’s Myron Dennis. Dennis is already talking trash during the staredown, and it should be an entertaining brawl next week.

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