UFC: TUF 23 Finale (Main Card) Breakdown and Predictions

Jaquim Silva ( 8-0) vs Andrew Holbrook (11-0)

Lightweight (155)

Jaquim Silva: A semi finalist of TUF Brazil 4, Silva turned some heads with his early performances in the house. Following his stint on the reality show, Silva pulled out a split decision win over cast mate Nazareno Malegarie.

Don’t be fooled by his “Netto BJJ” nickname Silva is a Muay Thai striker through and through. Prior to his split decision debut over Malegarie, Silva finished all of his fights in the first round.

Andrew Holbrook: Protege of fellow Indiana native and UFC workhorse Chris “Lights Out” Lytle, Andrew Holbrook was gifted a split decision victory over Ramsey Nijem in his octagon debut. 

Holbrook’s debut was not too bad considering it was on one week’s notice, but if he is going to keep his undefeated 11-0 record intact he will need to show a little more in his second fight.

The Fight: Netto throws his strikes with incredibly bad intentions and if how Holbrook reacted to Ramsey’s shots is any indication of his chin, then this is going to be a very short fight. Silva TKO 1st

Doo Ho Choi (13-1) vs Thiago Tavares (24-6-1)

Featherweight (145)

Doo Ho Choi: “The Korean Superboy” has lived up to the hype and then some in his two UFC bouts. Choi debuted with a:18 knockout of AKA’s Juan Puig and followed that up with a 1:33 knockout of bald brawler Sam Sicilla.

This former DEEP champion is a special fighter, Choi’s combination of speed, knockout power and technique are a sight to behold. He dispenses violence with a cool, calm and collected demeanor that at times appears as though he is on the verge of breaking out in laughter at the skill of his opponent.

Thiago Tavares: Veteran of 17 UFC bouts dating back to 2007, Tavares has seen it all in the octagon. Once viewed as strictly a submission threat, Tavares has rounded out his skills over the years even scoring a TKO stoppage over Spencer Fisher.

Still only 31 and now down at featherweight, Tavares is in a good position to make a run at the 145 pound strap. Even if he is not able to make a title run, Tavares can still act as a solid gatekeeper for featherweight prospects.

The Fight: The old saying goes “All fights start on the feet” and for Tavares this will be an unfortunate fact. Tavares’s hands have improved but if he decides to test them in this one, it will not go well for him. 

Tavares will shoot early an often after getting tagged in the opening exchanges, but expect Choi’s sprawl to be on point and for him to get another early stoppage via strikes. Choi KO 1st

Ross Pearson ( 21-10-1) vs Will Brooks (17-1) 

Lightweight (155)

Ross Pearson: Ross continues his gate keeping duties welcoming the highly touted Bellator champion to the UFC. The TUF 9 champion eked out a split decision victory over Chad Laprise in a brilliant display of technical stand up fighting by both fighters.

Ross says his brief weight cut to 145 caused kidney and digestive problems that had  lingering effects in his recent performances. Now 100 percent healthy Pearson will have the opportunity to jump right back in with the contenders if he can pull this one off.

Will Brooks: “Ill” Will makes his long awaited octagon debut Friday after a long, ugly battle to be released from his former employer Bellator. Brooks held Bellator’s lightweight title and made two successful defenses before heading for the UFC.

Brook’s entrance into the UFC will make for some dream match ups in the lightweight division, but he will have to get by Pearson first, a tough task for anyone at 155.

The Fight: Pearson has defeated elite grapplers like Gray Maynard and George Sotiropoulos, but Brooks is on another level. Brooks has the ability to completely shutdown a fighters offense and grind out a victory from on top.

I expect him to implement this wrestling based attack against Pearson and ride out a three round decision. Some may call it boring, but if it can get him wins at the highest level why not fight to his strengths. Brooks Unanimous Decision.

Amanda Cooper ( 1-1) vs Tatiana Suarez (3-0)

Strawweight (115)

Amanda Cooper: Cooper showcased a well rounded mixed martial arts game in her run on TUF 23. The former boxer displayed excellent striking as expected, but also had slick BJJ, submitting two of her opponents en route to the finale.

Copper’s 1-1 record does not accurately describe her potential, she was signed to Invicta after her first pro fight where she lost via armbar to dangerous youngster Aspen Ladd. Cooper’s time on the show will give her the much needed experience she will need to compete with the best strawweight women in the world.

Tatiana Suarez: Suarez obliterated her competition in TUF 23 with powerful strikes on the feet and dominant wrestling. Suarez trains at California based Millenia MMA a camp that features dangerous strikers like Lorenz Larkin and Saad Awad who will help this Olympic caliber wrestler become a complete fighter.

Suarez is one the most promising contestants to come out of the TUF house, at only 25 she has a very bright future in the women’s strawweight division. 

The Fight: Suarez is to big and to powerful, she fights to her strengths well, so I don’t expect her to trade on the feet for to long before getting this one to the mat, where she will pound out an early stoppage and bring home the TUF 23 crown. Suarez TKO 1st

Andrew Sanchez (7-2) vs Khalil Rountree ( 4-0)

Light heavyweight (205)

Andrew Sanchez: Sanchez surprised the experts when he defeated heavily favored Jackson/Winklejohn prospect Phil Hawes in the elimination round of TUF 23.  After the impressive entrance fight, Sanchez was the first male selected and he lived up to the high expectations, wining his two fights in the house impressively to earn his spot in the final.

Sanchez fights at 185 and will probably head back down after the show, but when the UFC comes calling you do what it takes to get the fight.

Kahlil Rountree: Rountree ended his entrance fight into the house with brutal soccer kicks to the body of his opponent, he immediately went up on peoples radar as someone to watch. Kahlil lost his first bout, but was given a second chance and made the most of it getting the TKO on his team mate Josh Stansbury to fight for the UFC contract.

Kahlil is relatively inexperienced at 4-0, but his devastating power which he fine tunes with killers like Anderson Silva at team Blackhouse, will give him the edge in many fights.

The Fight:  Sanchez will need to get this to the ground where he will have a huge BJJ advantage. However Kahlil’s power is a game changer and I liked the take down defense that he displayed in the tournament finale.

Kahlil’s striking will too much for Sanchez who has been susceptible to the knockout in the past. Rountree ends this one early with heavy strikes to become the TUF 23 champion. Rountree Knockout 1st

C Joanna Jedrzejczyk (11-0) vs #1 Claudia Gadelha (13-1)

Strawweight (115)

Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Jedrzejczyk has utilized Muay Thai striking to perfection in her MMA career. Her strikes are powerful,precise, efficient and her take down defense has been impenetrable. 

Since capturing the belt from Carla Esparza in 2012, Joanna has been lights-out in her two title defenses. Her first defense against Jessica Penne was a blood bath that ended via TKO in the third. Next she defended against top contender and French Canadian Valérie Létourneau, Joanna was dominant again picking Létourneau apart en route to a unanimous decision. 

Jedrzejczyk championship reign has helped the UFC expand in the Eastern European market as well as shining light on the women’s strawweight division, a division often overshadowed by the superstar’s in the women’s Bantamweight division.

Claudia Gadelha: Gadelha is unanimously regarded as the number one contender for Jedrzejczyk’s belt. After losing a controversial decision to Jedrzejczyk in 2014, Gadelha was sidelined due to injury for nearly a year.

Gadelha’s return fight was a title eliminator against WSOF champion Jessica Aguilar. Gadelha dominated from bell to bell, she bloodied up Aguliar’s face with well timed counters and took her down at will, earning a the decision victory and another shot and Joanna’s belt.

The Fight: The first time these two met Gadelha controlled much of the action clinching Joanna against the fence and taking her down on multiple occasions. If it wasn’t for a well timed uppercut that dropped Gadelha at the end of the first round, Gadelha would have pitched a shutout. Joanna also landed a head butt that opened Gadelha up and made it look like she caused more damage.

Gadelha will be the aggressor again, she will keep the fight in close preventing Joanna from unleashing her pinpoint combos. This one will go the distance and at the end of the night we will hear AND NEW… Gadelha Unanimous Decision

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