The future of the UFC: analyzing the first episode of The Ultimate Fighter 23

The Ultimate Fighter 23 debuted on April 20 for the world to see the best up-and-coming fighters on their TV screens.

Needless to say, I’m excited for this season which highlights current the current 115-pound queen, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and #1 contender, Claudia Gadelha coaching light heavyweight and strawweight fighters.

Here are the fighters that stood out to me after the first episode:

  • Lanchana Green came back after losing the first round to Ashley Cummins. She gave Cummins some deadly knees to the face that looked absolutely gruesome. Green looks like she has good striking technique and can potentially do well this season. However, Green could improve her ground game some more if she wants to be the ultimate fighter.
  • Eric Spicely made quick work of Kenneth Bergh in the first round, showcasing his strong jiu jitsu. There is something about Spicely that is scary. Aside from his solid ground game, Spicely has endured much emotional pain after losing his wife. I believe this makes him dangerous. When a man is fighting for something, something that stems from their passion, they grow to a point where handwork is the only option and the sport is all they have. Keep an eye out for this silent beast.
  • Khalil Roundtree is a future star in the light heavyweight division, there is no denying that. He has devastating kicks, he knows how to push the tempo of the match with his aggression, he’s powerful, and he has a likable personality. He’s an animal and definitely one I can see making it very far.
  • The fight between Ashley Yoder and Jodie Esquibel is one The Ultimate Fighter fans will talk about until a rematch happens. We all saw the match, Esquibel should have won. But, it’s another one of those that proves you can’t leave the fight to the judges. Although Esquibel should have had her hand raised, Yoder did show she could handle her own in the Octagon. A product of Dan Henderson’s gym, she could definitely use some work to make her a more well-rounded fighter. This split-decision win will ultimately play in Yoder’s favor because people will want to see if she is a fluke or if she deserves to be in the house.
  • J.J. Aldrich’s fight interested me after hearing she was Rose Namajunas’ training partner. I didn’t get to see enough of her on last week’s show, but I’m hoping to see more of her this week to get a better grip on her talents. I think it is interesting to note that she is on Team Joanna. With Namajunas next in line for a shot, Aldrich could be a key player to the success in her next title fight.
  • Tatiana Suarez is one strawweight you don’t want to mess with. Chel-C Bailey, a training partner of Miesha Tate, was dominated by Suarez. Being one of the taller strawweights, Suarez has a nice reach advantage that could aid her in winning the show. She shows shades of a perfectionist; one who will not settle until her technique is perfect and she dominates her fights. With some striking techniques, Suarez could be a problem in the strawweight division.
  • Andrew Sanchez came in and beat Phil Hawes who had much hype around him coming out of Jackson-Wink MMA. Hawes, a main training partner of Jones, was knocked out by Sanchez, who was calm and showed to be a very well-rounded, patient fighter.
  • John Stansbury came back after breaking his leg in a past season of The Ultimate Fighter. Not only is he scary, he’s extremely talented and could be a problem for the other light heavyweight fighters on the show. Stansbury is out for redemption and to prove himself worthy of a UFC contract.

This season will most definitely be interesting to watch, especially with the drama between Joanna and Claudia. Make sure to stay tuned to the Scrap during this season of The Ultimate Fighter.

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Follow our writer Joel Torres (@joelisacoolkid).