Eric Spicely is a contestant on Season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Joanna vs Team Claudia. He will be offering episode previews and insights from his time on the show throughout the season.
The dust has settled on what I thought was an incredible fight. Abdel looked sharp in the first round, countering every shot Josh threw with three and four-shot combinations. Abdel also controlled the Octagon, pushing Josh against the cage and working for takedowns as well as throwing knees in the clinch. The game plan was to not go to the ground and for some reason Abdel kept shooting. I honestly felt like that drained his energy. Abdel normally fights at 170 and Josh has previously fought at heavyweight while coming from a wrestling background.
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The second round was more of the same, Abdel landing sharp counter shots and clinching him against the fence. At one point Josh reversed Abdel on the cage and dropped for single leg. Abdel defended really well, slipping his leg out and on the exit Josh landed a brutal lead leg-head kick flush. The air in all of our lungs came out. Abdel appeared to be out and Josh pounced on him. Landing hammer fists but somehow Abdel stands up. He really showed his toughness at this moment. He backed up covering into the fence then started returning fire. He fought until the very end and Josh was trying to finish the whole time. I personally thought it should have gone to a third but I could definitely understand the judges giving it to Josh with all the damage he did in the second round.
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That concludes the light heavyweight quarterfinals. Next up is the ultra-experienced Kate Jackson against Ashley Yoder. Kate is probably the most experienced of the strawweights here and Ashley is a very tough well-rounded fighter coming out of Dan Henderson’s gym. It’s going to be an interesting fight with Joanna previously facing and defeating Kate on the regional circuit. Our chance to go a perfect 8-0 and make history is gone but we can still go 7-1 and that’s only happened one other time (Rashad vs Rampage, Season 10). Kate is definitely experienced enough to get it done!
It leaves us in an interesting situation with three Team Claudia light heavyweights in the semifinals. Andrew and I are really close and have really formed a bond as well as being there for each other in training this whole competition. This next fight has serious implications as it could be an all Team Claudia straw weight semifinal. Or can Yoder upset the tough experienced Kate Jackson?