Joanna Jędrzejczyk will face off in a championship fight versus Claudia Gadelha tonight, as the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 23, Team Joanna vs Team Claudia Finale. Jędrzejczyk trains at Arrachion Gym in Poland, while Gadelha trains at the better known Nova União with the likes of José Aldo, Renan Barão, and Junior dos Santos. Both have been in the United States filming the TUF season since December of 2015.
Volatile interaction isn’t new to their competitive relationship. After the bell in their first fight, December 14 th , 2014, Gadelha reached around the referee to slap one last punch at Jędrzejczyk, later saying she hadn’t heard the bell. Many felt that was a weak explanation, since the referee was literally standing between them.
In that fight, which ended in a split decision, Gadelha, the 3 time Brazilian Jui-Jitsu champion took Jędrzejczyk down four times, but was unable to submit her. Jędrzejczyk , the Muay Thai champion, stuffed 13 take-downs and knocked Galdeha down with a strong upper cut at the end of the first round. The fight ended with a split decision win for Jędrzejczyk.
That fight outcome determined who would take on Carla Esparza the following April, for the strawweight championship. Jędrzejczyk went on to knock out Carla Esparza, and has defended the belt twice since, defeating Jessica Penne and Valérie Létourneau, both inside 7 months last year.
In the last fight, both were close to a finish in the first round. Gadelha almost locked in an arm triangle, but rushed it and couldn’t secure it. Perhaps her additional experience and familiarity with Jędrzejczyk will bring her in calmer and help her capitalize on her Brazilian Jui-Jitsu brown belt. Jędrzejczyk almost finished it with an uppercut at the very end of round 1, but was unable to finish, having spent too much time trying to clinch with the Brazilian.
Who do you think is more likely to come in more polished and ready to capitalize on near finishes this time around? Tweet us at @CombatDocket and let us know! We’ll be live tweeting the fights all weekend.