Ultimate Fighter 23 finale: Joanna Jedrzejczyk defeats Claudia Gadelha
After a season of working in close quarters as coaches during The Ultimate Fighter 23, UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha stepped into the cage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to settle their differences in the finale. The season was rife with tense moments as the two women, who clearly dislike each other, tried to play mind games with one another.
What followed was an absolute war. Gadelha used her grappling to control Jedrzejczyk, and it worked for the first two rounds. Jedrzejczyk was unable to use her striking, getting constantly pinned against the cage and defending the takedown.
But in the third round the tides changed. Gadelha appeared to be gassed and Jedrzejczyk was fresh, delivering rapid fire combinations. As the fight continued, Gadelha got slower and slower when it came to defending allowing Jedrzejczyk to pick her apart. Jedrzejczyk was clearly in the driver’s seat and it appeared Gadelha, who had a two-round lead going into the third, was going to let this one slip away just one round from winning the title.
Jedrzejczyk speed persisted and her clinical striking dominated the remainder of the fight by a rather staggering and eye-popping margin. The judges awarded the win to Jedrzejczyk by unanimous decision with her getting a 10–8 fourth round on all three judges' score cards. The score wasn’t reflective of the battle this fight was, Gadelha putting the champ on the ropes and forcing Jedrzejczyk to dig deep to pull out the win.
After the fight ended, the two were eager to mend their rivalry and both had positive things to say in trying to put their feud to rest. Gadelha mentioned the need to respect one another during her post-fight interview, echoing Jedrzejczyk’s earlier sentiments.
Jedrzejczyk went on to say she wants to fight in the Madison Square Garden event in November, UFC 205. She wasn’t the only fighter to campaign for a spot on that historic card during the weekend and would certainly be an intriguing option there, but she might not get her wish if the UFC looks to highlight New York-based fighters, like Chris Weidman and Frankie Edgar, not to mention Conor McGregor.