‘TUF 23’ Recap: Episode 6

By Mike Sloan May 25, 2016
Eric Spicely is the member of Claudia Gadelha’s team who will be fighting by show’s end, but the drama surrounding Abdel Medjedoub is the early focal point. UFC President Dana White swings by the gym and picks the Canadian’s brain to see what the heck is going on in an effort to figure out to do.

White and Medjedoub sit down on couches in a side room of the gym. Medjedoub is actually contemplating leaving the show because of the hell that broke loose last week with his wife at home. White decides to let him get on the phone with his wife; she is still demanding that the fighter leave the show immediately or else she’ll leave him. In an unprecedented move, White allows the fighter to leave the house to return home, try and take care of the mess and then return to Las Vegas before the next fight, which will be from Thursday to Sunday.

“This is a real weird situation,” White tells the camera. “I don’t want to make him choose between his career and his marriage.”

After Medjedoub leaves the house, the scene shifts to Team Joanna at the gym, where Elias Urbina is getting ready to fight. At 22 years old, he’s the youngest fighter of the season, and he was the last fighter picked. Hector Urbina, his older brother, was on “TUF 19,” and Elias reveals that he has two younger brothers who are as scrappy as the two “TUF” veterans in the family.

It’s not long before Joanna Jedrzejczyk admits that Spicely is a very good grappler and that Urbina is very young and tall. The UFC champ says that Urbina must keep striking if he is to win. It doesn’t seem like Jedrzejczyk is overly confident in her fighter getting the team’s first win of the season.

In the next scene, White says that either Khalil Rountree or Myron Dennis will replace Medjedoub if he doesn’t come back to the house. But, after a few days, Medjedoub returns to the house just in time to see tonight’s fight. The team swarms him with joy. Medjedoub tells the camera that he took care of everything back home.

Finally, it’s fight day. Urbina and Spicely are relaxed and confident. Urbina claims he is not worried about his foe’s grappling prowess while Spicely -- the submission ace of the season -- reveals that he will stand and box with the young kid because he’s not sweating being taken off his feet.

As soon as the first round begins, Spicely comes right after his adversary but doesn’t land anything. Urbina wraps up Spicely’s head for a standing guillotine but it’s easily defended. Urbina quickly takes things to the canvas but he’s quickly caught in an armbar. In a panic, the prospect scoops up Spicely and drops him onto his shoulders twice, which frees Urbina from danger.

Urbina tags Spicely with a few short punches as the jiu-jitsu player rolls for a pair of foot locks and then a kneebar. Spicely then rolls onto his right side, allowing the younger man to slam a few elbows into his ribs. Spicely again goes for a leg lock, but it’s defended. The light heavyweights scramble and, in the blink of an eye, “The Dream Catcher” takes Urbina’s back with both hooks in, fishing for a rear-naked choke. Urbina turtles and gets softened up by a few punches here and there.

At the midway point, Urbina needs to get Spicely off his back, but he’s having tremendous difficulty in doing so. Spicely locks in a tight body triangle, preventing most movement, thus grinding the pace to a halt. Spicely threatens the armbar from the back but opts against it; rather, he peppers Urbina up with some moderate punches to the head. The Texan lands a few good punches from the front but he can’t shake the grappler off. After a very close round, it’s 10-9 Spicely, though some of the early damage from Urbina could have won him the round.

An Urbina kick to the body and a thwacking low kick open the second. Spicely is staying back on his feet but he is forced to absorb another shin to the gut. The Tri-Force MMA product wants no more of the kicks and shoots in, but Urbina stuffs him. A few more strikes from the younger man land before “The Dream Catcher” ties up Urbina and clinches against the cage.

Spicely drags Urbina down and quickly seizes his back, searching for the choke. In a carbon copy of the first round, the jiu-jitsu player slithers on another tight body triangle while Urbina is fending off the submission. Urbina is having a hell of a time shaking him off and when he rolls over to turtle, the Rhode Island fighter lands a few stinging punches from behind. With about two minutes left, the action has grinded to a halt yet again; Spicely continues to fish for the choke. Urbina tries to explode out but Spicely remains glued to his back. Spicely then switches and threatens a shoulder lock but he relinquishes it with a minute left. Spicely can’t finish a somewhat threatening rear-naked choke as time expires and it’s another close round, but Spicely’s control nabs him another 10-9 round.

“That sucks. The kid’s terrible,” White mumbles to somebody before he announces that Spicely has won the fight via unanimous scores of 20-18. “It’s not a way to catch our eye and get us excited about getting you in the UFC.”

At the next fight announcement, Gadelha goes with her own Amanda Bobby Cooper to oppose local Las Vegas grappler Jamie Moyle. Gadelha is thrilled about the fight, but Jedrzejczyk tells Moyle it’s an “easy fight.”

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