With perhaps one of the most heated backstories in all of MMA dating to their razor-thin bout in late 2014, top-ranked women’s strawweights Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha fought to settle their differences at last night’s (July 8, 2016) The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 23 Finale from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Champion Jedrzejczyk dominated the division since defeating Gadelha with a controversial split decision, unseating Carla Esparza and defending her title against Jessica Penne and Valerie Letourneau, while “Claudinha” was looking to take the gold she felt was rightfully hers.
The bad blood-amped rematch started with the champion getting immediately dropped by Gadelha, who lead that into a takedown. The Brazilian looked for a headlock position but “Joanna Champion” got up to control a clinch on the fence. Gadelha broke to throw hands, but Jedrzejczyk landed a combination of her own followed by an uppercut.
Gadelha sought a takedown and finally got it, smothering her rival with ground and pound. The champ got up and scored with an elbow before Gadelha landed one of her own. Jedrzejczyk found some space and landed some punches and a front kick. Gadelha landed a counter right hand and the fighters exchanged punches to end the fast-paced first round.
The second round kicked off with another clinch attempt from Gadelha, who missed a takedown but landed an elbow and a hard right. She dropped Jedrzejczyk on the mat and hit Jedrzejczyk with more ground and pound. The champion got up to land an elbow, but was tied up and peppered by Gadelha. The challenger went deep for a single leg but was hit with some hard elbows as Jedrzejczyk reversed position to go for a d’arce choke that was quickly foiled. Gadelha got up and went back to a grueling pace in the clinch, and then Jedrzejczyk threw a big front kick to close the second.
In the third frame, Jedrzejczyk came out aggressive with a combination. Gadelha landed a huge left hook that wobbled the champ, then piling on a pair of right hands and a takedown. Jedrzejczyk went back to her judo throw, but Gadelha countered. The champ landed a knee to the body as she broke free, but Gadelha landed a hard elbow. Jedrzejczyk began to work Gadelha’s midsection with kicks.
The challenger appeared gassed as the champ unleashed slick combinations. Gadelha scored a huge running double leg takedown, but Jedrzejczyk reversed to land on top. The champ landed various combos, and Gadelha dropped her with a big elbow. The fighters went to war with punches and elbows as a left hook from Gadelha was a fitting end to the most competitive round of the fight.
Jedrzejczyk came out with some sharp jabs and a combo to start the fourth frame. The champ appeared to be far more energized at the start of the championship rounds, bouncing around and throwing strikes with ease. Front kicks landed, and Gadelha’s pace slowed, with Jedrzejczyk scoring a left. She landed a right , but Gadelha fought back with a big punch. Jedrzejczyk opened up with countless shots right on their mark, and although Gadelha scored some hard, lunging counters, the champ was able to pick the challenger apart in the final minute. Gadelha was bloodied and exhausted when the bell signaled a fifth and final round.
The concluding stanza began with Jedrzejczyk offering a hug to her enemy that was refused. Jedrzejcztk scored a counter combo as Gadelha rushed in and worked from the outside. Gadelha absorbed a combo and went for a takedown, not completing it but pushign the champ against the fence. Working hard, Gadelha couldn’t neutralize the Muay Thai wizard. Shots landed from Jedrzejczyk, with kicks following. The challenger was grounded, and Jedrzejczyk rained elbows. Gadelha landed a right hand only to get stunned by a combo. The champ landed many punches, elbows, and knees as time expired.
Final Result: Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Claudia Gadelha via Unanimous Decision (48-46, 48-45, 48-46)