TUF 23 REPORT 5/25: Penick’s thoughts on episode six of “Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia” season

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Another Wednesday brings another episode of The Ultimate Fighter 23 “Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia,” and we’re back tonight with our rundown on episode six, which brings our third of four quarterfinal matchups in the men’s light heavyweight tournament. Team Claudia has swept the four matchups from both the men’s and women’s tournaments to this point, leaving Team Joanna in need of some type of spark to build upon. On to the episode!

-Dana White comments on this week’s matchup between Eric Spicely and last pick Elias Urbina IV, and brings up the unresolved thread from last week’s episode with Abdel Medjedoub’s marital issues. White pulls Medjedoub into his office at the training center to try to figure out what’s going on while Gadelha and the team speculate.

-Medjedoub says he has no excuse for what he did (which is still not revealed), and White allows him another opportunity to call his wife to try talking it out, and the conversation isn’t the best for him.

Medjedoub: “You know that if I leave, I’ll never be able to do anything in the sport again. This can’t wait for three weeks? In three weeks, we can talk about it.”

Medjedoub’s wife: “If you come back tomorrow, we’ll talk. If not, end of discussion.”

Medjedoub: “Do you promise not to divorce me? Look, if you promise not to abandon me, I’ll leave.”

Medjedoub’s wife: “I promise.”

-Medjedoub’s main concern is that if he leaves, he burns all his chances to fight in the UFC, and he’s torn between wanting to fight for his career and losing his wife. Dana White pulls out the single most compassionate and understanding move I’ve seen him pull on this show: he allows Medjedoub the opportunity to fly home for a few days to speak with his wife, get this figured out, and then he offers to fly him back to still compete in the show. If he’s unable to get it figured out to return, it’s understandably over as far as the season is concerned, but if he can get it figured out he’ll be back. It’s the right move on White’s part in what seems like an extremely difficult situation for Medjedoub, and for Medjedoub’s sake hopefully he winds up making it back to compete.

-On to Team Joanna’s Elias Urbina IV, whose older brother Hector competed back in season 19 on the show and now holds a 1-1 mark in the UFC. He discusses a poverty stricken upbringing with lots of moving around.

-As they train, Jedrzejczyk talks about Urbina being overlooked and under-respected, and though Spicely has a significant ground edge, she believes Urbina can strike with him throughout the bout. Urbina believes he’s comfortable and confident enough on the ground to compete with him as well. With that said, his elimination bout was among the least impressive.

-Dana says either Khalil Rountree or Myron Dennis from Team Joanna will get an opportunity to return if Medjedoub isn’t able to return. However, Rountree’s nursing a knee issue which is frustrating him in training. Jedrzejczyk tells him to take a couple days resting to give it a chance to heal a bit considering he might get that opportunity.

-Spicely relays a horrific story on the death of his girlfriend of four years a year prior, who died in a kayaking accident. He talked about her attributes and how her memory drives him to continue competing as best he can.

-Talking about his MMA career, Spicely said he’s never lost a round, and he’s riding six straight first round wins. Watching video of Urbina’s elimination round fight, Spicely is overly amused at how poor Urbina’s performance was despite winning that bout (and it really wasn’t good). Spicely said he’s won six fights in a row without needing to throw any strikes, even though he’s working on that aspect of his game consistently. He feels wholly confident in the matchup.

-No internet and no TV makes TUF competitors go crazy, which means it’s prank time. The guys put baby powder in the hair dryers of the women, so they return fire by pouring it on them in the hot tub. It continues from there, as it always does. Nothing close to semenized sushi, at least.

-On fight day, Medjedoub returns to the team, so he’ll remain in the competition. He’s greeted warmly by his team.

Medjedoub: “I go there, I fix everything. I took my responsibility like a man. It’s my fault 1000%, but for respect, like I respect her a lot, and for respect for her I won’t say anything in the camera and to my teammates, too. Everybody knows I won’t talk about this story, it’s between me and her.”

-Good on him. It’s personal, it’s between them, he’s moving on to continue competing, and though it would lend some clarity to the situation he doesn’t owe anyone a full explanation here. White and the UFC made the right call in allowing him that few days back home to work things out in person.

-The fighters get in final thoughts on fight day, with Urbina downplaying his inexperience and saying he can’t be underestimated, while Spicely believes his own experience is a significant edge. Urbina says this fight is too big for him and he can’t accept a loss.


ROUND ONE: Spicely immediately closed distance and shot for a takedown. He ate a few strikes, but got the fight down. However, Urbina wound up working his way to top position. Spicely attacked for an armbar and had it locked on, but Urbina stood out of it and eventually got his arm free. Spicely then attacked for a leg, though Urbina defended well and scored with ground and pound from top position. Spicely tried to grab the leg again, though Urbina stepped over and got in more strikes. Spicely then pulled off a slick transition as Urbina defended the leg lock in order to take his back. He got one hook in and tried to improve position. Urbina tried to buck him off, but Spicely got the other hook in as he delivered a few strikes in order to keep him down. Urbina defended well, though Spicely worked to a body triangle to keep control. Urbina couldn’t do much more than defend, though he was effective on that front throughout the final minute, surviving to the end of the round. Almost assuredly Spicely’s round with the sub attempts and back control despite the strikes he took early.

ROUND TWO: Urbina tried to score early with kicks and punches, keeping Spicely at bay in the opening 30 seconds. He stuffed a takedown nicely and landed a few hard strikes. Spicely then closed the distance and went for a takedown, though Urbina briefly held it off. He finally dragged him down and took his back, locking on a body triangle and looking for the choke. Urbina defended against the choke while Spicely continued to land short bursts of offense before again looking for a choke. He got Urbina turtled up, then held position as they continued to roll. Urbina tried to land strikes with Spicely on his back, but he couldn’t get out of the position. Gadelha called for Spicely to finish the fight. He seemed more content to ride out the round in position, staying with Urbina as they rolled again. Urbina couldn’t get out, but he wasn’t ceding much ground to the choke attempts. Jedrzejczyk tried to will Urbina to do something in the last minute. Spicely instead kept control and attacked for a choke. Urbina fought it off, but couldn’t escape as the round ended. Spicely’s going to win, but that wasn’t a good fight overall. Urbina had enough defense to not get stopped, but he couldn’t escape once Spicely got control, and didn’t really seem to try escaping either.

-White said he wasn’t impressed by Spicely’s fighting style, saying his performance was “not a way to catch our eye and get us very excited about you being in the UFC.” To be fair, Spicely wasn’t pleased with himself even in victory. Regardless, Gadelha’s team continues to do nothing but win, while Jedrzejczyk’s locker room continues to remain dejected. Urbina felt a third round was necessary, and felt Spicely was just “humping [his] leg.” While Spicely didn’t do a whole lot with his position, the losing fighter can’t complain when they’ve done even less and can’t get out of those positions.

-Gadelha said it’s hard for Jedrzejczyk to talk trash when her fighters keep losing, and thinks Jedrzejczyk respects her more now. She picks Amanda Cooper to face Jamie Moyle in the next fight. Couple of Invicta vets there for next week’s episode.

-Thanks for joining us once again this week; we’ll be back next Wednesday with another TUF rundown!

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