When strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk said, "This is an easy fight," those words came back to haunt her following the latest fight - and latest loss – for her team on The Ultimate Fighter this week, as Amanda Cooper toppled Jamie Moyle to put Team Claudia up 6-0 in the competition.
It was just a week ago when Claudia Gadelha made the announcement that Cooper would face Moyle in one of the final three preliminary round matchups. Thus far, Team Claudia has been absolutely dominant, winning all five fights, but Jedrzejczyk was so confident in her fighter that she predicted the bout with Cooper would be an easy win for Moyle.
In actuality, the momentum has been solely on Team Claudia's side as they continue to pull off fight after fight while Team Joanna searches for answers. Gadelha made no bones about her desire to go out and beat Jedrzejczyk's team once again while trying to become the first team in Ultimate Fighter history to win every opening round matchup. It's never happened before in 20-plus seasons of the show, but it certainly seems like Gadelha's team has a real shot at making that dream become a reality.
"That's my goal — I wanna run the table," Gadelha said this week.
Even UFC President Dana White can't deny how bleak things have looked for Team Joanna this season through the first five fights leading into Cooper versus Moyle. He's seen the anger in the strawweight champion and that frustration could bleed over into lackluster team practices, which surely won't help dig them out of their current funk.
"There's a potential sweep here, which has never happened on The Ultimate Fighter," White said. "You can't start to unravel in this competition."
To try and right the ship, Jedrzejczyk brought in former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw to help her team prepare for the next fight. Considering Moyle's ground-heavy style, Dillashaw seemed like the perfect compliment with his fast hands and great wrestling. The training session was a little harder to stomach for light heavyweight competitor Khalil Rountree, who thought for a brief moment that he might be getting a second shot in the competition until Abdel Medjedoub returned to the series after settling an issue at home in last week's episode.
Rountree was also dealing with a particularly tough date as he sat alone outside the house thinking about his father's birthday, which coincided with filming. Rountree lost his dad back in 1992 when he was shot and killed during a robbery attempt. Rountree's father - also named Khalil - was the road manager for several prominent groups, including Boyz II Men, and he was slain while traveling with the band when his son was just two years old.
It was a tough day for Rountree all around as he tried to push through training while still trying to face another birthday without his father around.
Elsewhere on the show this week, the fighters did get to enjoy some time outside the house for the first time all season, as White treated them to a night out on the town. The group traveled to downtown Las Vegas for a show and a few of the fighters even got involved. Actually, Myron Dennis and Josh Stansbury got roped into a striptease for their teammate Jamie Moyle, which was both funny and awkward for everybody involved. For his part, Stansbury definitely went all the way and didn't hold back in his performance.
"Josh went full ‘Magic Mike,’" Dennis joked after watching Stansbury's routine.
From there, it was finally time to focus on the fight at hand. Cooper was excited to get back into the Octagon to prove herself following a quick win to get into the house while also struggling during the early part of her career as she dealt with a torn ACL in her knee. Cooper grew up amongst a family full of boxers and White complimented the fledgling fighter as potentially the best striker of the strawweights in the competition. Cooper also didn't mind talking a little trash as she prepared to square off with Moyle in the cage.
"I'm going to hit you with so many lefts you're going to be begging me for a right," Cooper said.
As the fight got underway, it was actually Moyle who landed more lefts and rights as she tagged Cooper with a series of quick combinations. Cooper was forced to back up while trying to find her range, and despite having a reach advantage, she couldn't find a home for her punches in the early going of the fight. Inevitably, Moyle started fishing for the takedown but struggled to put Cooper down, and that allowed the Team Claudia fighter to get her balance back and start unloading with some very heavy punches midway through the round. Cooper looked like she was taking over the fight until Moyle finally landed a takedown late in the first round.
The second round started much the same way, with Moyle getting an early takedown while advancing her position on Cooper on the mat. It seemed like Moyle might be cruising towards a victory until Cooper was able to work her way back to the feet, where she started to unload on her opponent from the clinch. Cooper slammed several hard punches and elbows inside, one of which opened a huge gash over Moyle's eye. The fighters eventually tumbled back to the ground, where Cooper continued her assault with a series of nasty shots from the top.
At one point it looked like the referee might even stop the fight, but Moyle was able to survive until the final bell. When it was over, it looked like there might be a third round, with Moyle eking out round one and Cooper clearly dominating round two, but it turns out the judges returned a majority decision.
Cooper got the win while moving Team Claudia to 6-0 on the season. Jedrzejczyk was not happy with the decision and even berated the judges for what she believed was a bad call. Controversial or not, Cooper got the win and she helped her team stay in control as the final two fights of the preliminary round got ready to unfold.
The next bout will be the final opening round matchup in the men's light heavyweight division, as Team Claudia's Abdel Medjedoub takes on Team Joanna's last hope in the weight class, Ohio native Josh Stansbury. If Team Joanna can't get a win next week, Team Claudia will be just one fight away from a clean sweep.
Can Team Claudia keep the momentum going or will Team Joanna finally get the win as Stansbury looks to beat Medjedoub in the final bout at 205 pounds before the quarterfinals get underway? Tune into The Ultimate Fighter next Wednesday night at 10pm ET on FS1 to find out.
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