‘TUF 23’ Recap: Episode 11

By Mike Sloan Jun 29, 2016
UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate drops in on Team Claudia’s training session, where teammates Lanchana Green and Amanda Cooper are preparing to face one another in this week’s strawweight semifinal.

Tate starts drilling takedowns with Claudia Gadelha’s charges, while both Green and Cooper rave about the newly crowned champ and what she brings to the table. Back at the house, however, Cooper is struggling to maintain her weight before the fight. She’s worried because it appears as though she’s not even close to the target of 116 pounds, and she’s already planning how to attack her situation.

Gadelha tells the camera that she can’t prepare Cooper and Green to fight each other because they are a team and a family. Team Claudia’s coaches will all be there, but they aren’t going to actually train and coach the two upcoming opponents. With that in mind, Cooper opts to train mostly with Andrew Sanchez because they connect so well as teammates.

The following night at the house, the teams are getting bored and restless, so they create an in-house bowling tournament using a rubber ball and UFC water bottles. Things are festive and fun; Green winds up winning the tournament and wins some sort of medal.

The scene shifts to Green’s training routines. Like her opponent, she’s tearing it up. Green starts blubbering into the camera about her teammates and how badly she wants to win the show. The waterfall of tears continues in between clips of her training and her explaining her dreams and whatnot.

Since there needs to be some footage of Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s team, training highlights from Khalil Rountree and Josh Stansbury come fast and furious. Their fight will be the last of the season, guaranteeing a member from Team Joanna in the “TUF 23” light heavyweight final.

Meanwhile, Cooper is struggling to shed her final four pounds. She goes to bed with the extra weight and is worried about having to clear the baggage in the morning. She only loses about a pound overnight and rushes to the gym to in a frenzied effort to make weight.

An hour before she steps onto the scale, Cooper is suffering in the sauna. Her energy levels are in the toilet and she looks awful. She’s naturally a flyweight, and having to make the strawweight limit three separate times this season is brutal for her. Everybody on the team is concerned, but Green wants her to make weight and doesn’t want a free pass to the finals.

At the official weigh-in, Cooper is the first to step to the scale, and she checks in heavy at 117.5 pounds. She has to lose the additional 1.5 pounds in one hour or else she’s eliminated from the competition. Green, meanwhile, comes in at 115 on the dot.

Team Claudia gathers a large vat and fills it with hot water, and Cooper quickly sits in it so she can sweat out the weight. They wrap her in towels when she gets out, then put her back in the tub of hot water, but time is running out. She gets back on the scale with no time to spare and strips down to her birthday suit. Finally, after all that anguish, Cooper comes in at 116, giving her the green light to fight. Team Claudia releases a collective sigh of relief, and now it’s time to fight.

Cooper and Green circle early, pawing with jabs and missing sporadic hooks. Cooper gets close and dishes out three punches to the head, but she misses each one by mere inches. Green circles to her right and fires an overhand right, catching the American clean, but Cooper shakes it off. Cooper counters with a nice head kick that is partially blocked. Green tags her a few more times upstairs, which leads to Cooper shooting in and landing a single-leg takedown. Cooper is looking to pass to her right but can’t before she’s up-kicked in the grill. During the ensuing scramble, Cooper lands in side control. She doesn’t keep the Brit there long, though, as another scramble leads to Green recovering to full guard.

Cooper gets off a few decent punches and elbows before she explodes back out to her feet and passes to side control again with about 90 seconds left. Green shrimps and rolls over in an attempt to better her position, but Cooper immediately pounces and seizes her back, both hooks in. Cooper fishes for the rear-naked choke and it looks threatening. Green tries to fend it off, but Cooper is squeezing hard and cranking her neck somewhat to the left. Finally, with Green looking like she doesn’t know how to escape the choke, she has no option but to tap out, giving Cooper an impressive win.

Afterward, Green is devastated and crying into her country’s flag in the dressing room. Cooper is elated and relieved to have her hand raised after such a brutal time making weight.

Next week’s episode will have two fights in one night, as well as a nasty face-off between the two coaches which ends with White having to separate the strawweights.

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