Las Vegas, NV - Joanna Jedrzejczyk remains perfect inside the Octagon.
Behind on all the judges scorecards after two rounds, Jedrzejczyk rallied to take the last three frames, defeating archrival Claudia Gadelha, 48-46, 48-45, 48-45, at the Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale.
"I feel great ... I have so much respect for her. She's a great fighter," commented Jedrzejczyk. "I put in a lot of work. I live the life of a champion; this is what I am trying to do."
Jedrzejczyk started out slow, unable to defend Gadelha's repeated takedowns. But the third round proved to be the turning point, as Jedrzejczyk dialed in her world-class striking, using her jab to set up vicious straight punches and a bevvy of kicks.
And while Gadelha stayed in the pocket and exchanged with Jedrzejczyk, absorbing elbows in the clinch, her pace slowed drastically in the championship rounds.
But it was not all bad for Gadelha, who took Fight of the Night honors along with Jedrzejczyk. Gadelha dropped the champion twice, once in the first round and once in the third. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, as Jedrzejczyk came back with precision and technique.
"We were ready for a really tough fight with Claudia Gadelha ... you can not be so dominant all the time, you have to prepare for everyone," offered Jedrzejczyk following her third title defense.
Competing for The Ultimate Fighter light heavyweight championship, Andrew Sanchez dominated Khalil Rountree, using his grappling and takedown game to score the unanimous decision nod.
A slow and grinding affair, the bout drew jeers from the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, as Sanchez used ground strikes and positioning to nullify Rountree's power.
With the win, Sanchez earns a contract with the UFC worth six figures.
"I'm the smallest guy in the competition," commented Sanchez, who hinted at a move down to middleweight or welterweight. "If you're good, you're good. It's that simple."
In the finals of the women's strawweight bracket, wrestler Tatiana Suarez earned a first round submission over Amanda Cooper to claim the TUF crown.
Converting on multiple takedowns early on, Suarez survived an armbar submission attempt, before locking in a d'arce choke to stop the fight at 3:43 of the first frame.
"I said I was going to submit her in the first round and I did," offered Suarez, who earned a Performance of the Night bonus. "I'm really excited to prove everyone wrong who has ever doubted me."
Former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks made his successful UFC debut, earning a unanimous decision over former The Ultimate Fighter winner Ross Pearson.
Brooks used the clinch game to slow Pearson's striking attack, pressing the Englishman up against the fence while unloading a bevvy of knees and elbows.
But Pearson landed heavy punches of his own, going to the body, and knocking Brooks down in the first round.
Attempting to bring the bout to the ground, Brooks struggled to finish his takedowns. And while he was unsuccessful in the first frame, Brooks finally took Pearson to the ground in the second and third rounds, using his wrestling and ground and pound to score.
"I only had three weeks to prepare, so did the best I could ... fighting tonight was an incredible experience," stated Brooks. "You take the win for what it is, my coaches and I put together the best game plan we could.
Doo Ho Choi, the aptly named "Korean Superboy," flew in from Busan to make quick work of veteran Thiago Tavares.
Landing a flying knee early in the first round, Choi struggled to evade Tavares' double leg takedowns and grappling. Hitting the mat for a third time in the opening frame, Choi finally found a separation and went to work with his precise striking.
First hitting Tavares with a jab, Choi then unloaded a vicious straight right to the chin, sending the Brazilian to the ground. Choi followed up with a ground strike to earn the knockout at 2:42
"It went exactly as I expected it to ... my big strength is striking," offered Choi, who took home a Performance of the Night bonus for his third-straight knockout victory. "There's a lot further I can go from here ... the more I fight, the more recognition I'll get."
The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale Results
Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Claudia Gadelha via unanimous decision (48-46, 48-45, 48-46)
Andrew Sanchez def. Khalil Rountree via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Tatiana Suarez def. Amanda Cooper via submission (d'arce choke) R1, 3:43
Will Brooks def. Ross Pearson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Doo Ho Choi def. Thiago Tavares via KO (punches) R1, 2:42
Joaquim Silva def. Andrew Holbrook via TKO (strikes) R1, 0:34
Gray Maynard def. Fernando Bruno via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Matheus Nicolau def. John Moraga via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Josh Stansbury def. Cory Hendricks via majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
Cezar Ferreira def. Anthony Smith via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Kevin Lee def. Jake Matthews via TKO (strikes) R1, 4:06
Li JingLiang def. Anton Zafir via KO (punches) R1, 2:46