TUF 23 REPORT 5/18: Penick’s thoughts on episode five of “Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia” season

Another Wednesday, another episode of The Ultimate Fighter 23. This week we get some in-house drama in the form of an outside the house phone call for one Abdel Medjedoub, while Helen Harper and Lanchana Green meet in the second women’s tournament bout. On to the recap!

-We start off in a Team Claudia training session with some background on England’s Lanchana Green, who tells a story of getting into fighting after getting beat up by some girls as a kid. Dana White calls her one of the best strikers on Gadelha’s team as he recapped Green’s impressively violent comeback win in the elimination round. Gadelha thinks the “little things” she’s showing Green in training to improve her takedown defense will be the difference in this fight.

-On to Team Joanna, where Jedrzejczyk brings in the woman from whom she took the title, Carla Esparza, as a guest coach. Given her time in the TUF house herself, Esparza’s got added insight to bring.

-Harper says knowing she’s got the fight scheduled for this week has completely changed her demeanor and outlook, because there was anxiety in not knowing when she’d be fighting. Jedrzejczyk said Harper’s like a “little tornado,” and may prove to be the toughest fighter in the competition.

Harper: “I want it more, so I’m gonna get it.”

-Harper says she got into fighting because her ex beat her up and she needed to learn how to defend herself. She has a hard time re-hashing what happened to her and how she was in denial at the time. Talking to the other fighters about it in the kitchen and how she feels it made her more resilient.

Harper: “If I can survive that I can survive this.”

-Medjedoub is allowed to take a call from his wife, who called the show and said she needed to speak with him, with White allowing him to take the call. Apparently he did something bad before he left for the show, and she’s telling him she’ll leave him if he doesn’t leave the show and come back.

Medjedoub: “I’m so sorry. I did very bad things, and I apologize… she don’t deserve it. I’m lucky to have this woman in my life.”

-He doesn’t really get into any specifics, saying it’s “too personal,” leaving it up to speculation for those watching this unfold.

-Team Claudia isn’t sure what’s going on with Medjedoub as they get back to the training center, with his teammates left to speculate as well. Gadelha was taken aback by the mood in the locker room, so he goes out to the hall and doesn’t want to talk about it, outside of saying “I lost my wife.” Poor choice of words to someone who isn’t up to speed on the situation.

-Both Harper and Green make weight, and get into their final preparations for the matchup on fight day.


ROUND ONE: Harper came out to the center and landed the first right hand. She connected on a short combination as she tried to press in close. Green peppered her with a few jabs and did some damage in close. Harper fired back after resetting in the center. She got hurt by a left hand but clinched up. Green beat her up a bit with punches and knees. Harper finally got in tight in a clinch to halt Green’s offensive output for a moment. She worked down to a single leg but Green fought it off well. They jockeyed for position and Green finally got separation with a good knee and a nice elbow strike on the break. She landed a right hand. Harper rushed across the cage to grab another clinch. She went for a trip off a body lock but failed. She stayed on the attempt but Green continued to defend well. She landed a couple of hard knees to the body. Green separated again with a significant combination. Harper rushed again, this time pulling guard and attacking a leg. Green held it off, landed strikes, and stuffed another takedown attempt as Harper drove her to the cage. They stalled out briefly in the clinch, then Green held off another takedown attempt with a big knee. She landed a kick and a couple strikes to back Harper off. Harper fired off a rigth hand after eating a strike. Green landed a kick at the horn. Green’s round easy.

ROUND TWO: Green landed a couple jabs to try keeping Harper out of range. Harper got in a body kick. She ate a couple more strikes as she tried to get in close. Harper ate a big right hand as she failed to clinch up. Green landed an inside kick leg kick. She landed a couple more strikes as Harper closed distance. Harper went for a single leg attempt, eating some big strikes as she failed to put it together. Green separated, then landed several hard strikes in combination. She continued to pepper Harper with shots. Harper then finally timed an attempt well and dragged Green to the ground. Harper tried to pass out of half guard as Green locked her down. She finally managed to get her leg free to move into mount, though she was up quite high. She was warned to stay busy while attacking for an Americana. She postured up in mount and did some damage. She landed some hard elbows and held position as Green tried to buck her off. She postured up again, stuffed an attempt to buck her off, and landed some significant strikes from the top. Harper continued to score offensively in the mount as Green tried to hold on to the horn. Big finish from Harper to likely even things up here. Indeed, we get a third round.

ROUND THREE: Harper tried to move her head out of the way of Green’s attacks early, though she was only moderately successful. Jedrzejczyk was yelling for her to shoot in for the takedown. She grabbed a clinch 45 seconds in and drove Green to the cage, but she ate a few strikes and got pressed away. Green got in a hard body kick and a right hand behind it, then landed several more in combination. Harper clinched up again and looked for the takedown. Green fought it off with elbows and punches. Harper snuck behind her standing and nearly slammed her, then finally brought her down. However, Green fought back up to her feet. Harper held onto her but couldn’t secure the takedown. Green backed her off with several hard strikes after stuffing the attempts. Green landed a hard leg kick. She connected on a jab. Harper clinched up but again couldn’t get a grip. They traded strikes in the center. Hard jab from Green. Harper finally got another clinch and tried to drag Green to the ground, this time completing the takedown. However, Green put her in guard and got her back to the cage in order to get to her feet. Harper got in a knee to the body as Green got to her feet. Green came forward and landed an overhand right. They traded and Harper connected on a decent combination. She clinched, got Green’s back, and again tried to drag her down to no avail before the horn. Green’s fight.

WINNER: Green by decision

-It was an entertaining enough fight, and clearly a case of two very different fighters. Harper is extremely green as a striker, and she took an absolute beating through much of the first and third rounds. She’s tough as hell, and gets credit for that, but Green was just too much on the feet and did a ton offensively throughout. Much more well-rounded.

-Gadelha gets in the cage in celebration after whooping it up, then intentionally gives Jedrzejczyk the old “too slow” after shaking hands with the other coaches, one of many signs of disrespect between the two this season.

-Harper took the loss hard, unsurprisingly.

Harper: “Not good enough. I’m just not good enough. I thought I was going to be our first win, I really believed I was going to be our first win. I don’t know what else we can do.”

-Jedrzejczyk believed Harper showed to everyone they have to go in there and fight like that until the end.

-Before the fight announcement, Jedrzejczyk told Gadelha to give her more respect or it would come back to her in July. More back and forth between the two. Honestly believe that fight’s going to be great on July 8.

-For next week, Gadelha chooses Eric Spicely to take on Elias Urbina, the last pick overall. Dana White thinks Gadelha’s “going for the jugular” by going after the last pick in an attempt to put them up 5-0.

-That’s all for tonight! Thanks for checking out the report; we’ll be back next Wednesday night!

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