Sanchez-Rountree, Cooper-Suarez Set for ‘The Ultimate Fighter 23’ Finale

By Mike Sloan Jul 6, 2016


The season finale for “The Ultimate Fighter 23” will commence Friday night, smack dab in the middle of trilogy of UFC events in Las Vegas. The MGM Grand Garden Arena will serve as the host location for the event, which will be anchored by the eagerly-awaited showdown between bitter rivals Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha for the UFC women’s strawweight championship.

The two women, who have made clear the seething hatred they share for one another, will finally settle the score as to which woman is the queen at 115 pounds. Reigning champion Jedrzejczyk toppled the Brazilian via a disputed split decision 18 months ago, which set the table for an endless cascade of threats and trash talk from both parties. And with the rivals serving as opposing coaches on “TUF 23,” tensions boiled over repeatedly, which leads into Friday night’s grudge rematch.

Also set for the marque will be the two finals from the popular reality television series. A group of light heavyweight men and strawweight women all competed in a six-week tournament while staying in the “TUF” house and on Friday, the winners of each finals matchup will receive a six-figure UFC contract.

On the men’s side of things, Andrew Sanchez will stand opposite fill-in opponent Khalil Rountree. After real-life Syndicate MMA teammate Corey Hendricks -- who defeated Rountree during the season -- had to withdraw due to a neck and shoulder injury, Rountree was chosen by UFC President Dana White to fill in. Meanwhile, Amanda Bobby Cooper will look to utilize her solid striking and jiu jitsu game against Tatiana Suarez, a former wrestling champion whose career was nearly derailed while she battled and defeated cancer.

The "The Ultimate Fighter 23" finale will begin on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT before switching to Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT for the undercard and then the main card.

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