Updated TUF 23 Finale Grades

doohochoiumedaJay Primetown gives his thoughts on each of the fighters who competed at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jay gives his letter grades for each fighter on TheMMA-Analysis podcast which can be found on MMAOddsbreaker.com   Li Jingliang vs. Anton Zafir Jingliang: Needs to improve defensive wrestling, but his striking is decent and he has nice pop in his hands. He’s certainly exceeded expectations thus far in the promotion. Grade remains D+ Zafir: I like his movement and variety early on in fights, but without a chin it’s going to be hard to succeed in MMA. Grade remains F   Kevin Lee vs. Jake Matthews Lee: Great performance from the American outgrappling his opponent and finding a way to get the finish. This was the best win of his career and gives him the opportunity to face a solid veteran. Upgraded from C to C+ Matthews: In hindsight, Matthews wasn’t ready for this. He needs to improve his wrestling even further and that will come with experience and continued training. He’s got a bright future but there are holes he needs to work on. Downgraded from C+ to C   Cezar Ferreira vs. Anthony Smith Ferreira: Very similar to his fight with Oluwale Bamgbose. He avoided the big strike and worked in takedowns to control the final 10 minutes of the fight. Grade remains D+ Smith: He’s a decent one round fighter, but has poor takedown defense and his conditioning is terrible. Disappointing performance from Smith. Downgraded from D+ to D   Cory Hendricks vs. Josh Stansbury Hendricks: Slowed down tremendously in this fight and had no answers for Stansbury’s takedowns after the first round. Not a good sign for his future in the UFC. Debut grade is D- Stansbury: After a competitive first round, he fought smart and worked in a grappling game plan that saw him win an easy decision. Debut grade is D   John Moraga vs. Mattheus Nicolau Moraga: An absolutely head scratching performance from the former title challenger. He fought very tentative and was unable to get off against an opponent he should have dominated. The decision was correct and is a real set back in Moraga’s career. Downgraded from B+ to C+ Nicolau: He fought smart stuffing his opponent’s takedown attempts and keeping his opponent confused on the feet. This was a terrific result for Nicolau to jumpstart his career in the UFC. Upgraded from C- to C+   Fernando Bruno vs. Gray Maynard Bruno: He did well early in the fight, but his inability to put away Gray Maynard is certainly a cause for concern. Even worse was just how badly conditioned he was in this bout as he was breathing very heavily in the later portions of the fight. Another loss like this one and Bruno will be out of the UFC. Downgraded from D+ to D Maynard: His first win in over four years, Maynard was competitive on the feet and easily out grappled his opponent in the later stages of the fight. With that said, it’s tough to imagine Maynard being able to beat fighters with a semblance of punching power. Grade remains D+   Andrew Holbrook vs. Joaquim Silva Holbrook: This fight ended quickly and not good for Holbrook. Being knocked out from a strike while not even standing up is a bad sign. He’s going to need to do well in his next fight to stick around in the organization. Downgraded from D+ to D Silva: Great finish from Silva who was able to defeat his undefeated opponent inside of one minute. Undefeated in his own right and just 27 years of age, I expect the Brazilian to get a real step up in competition in his next bout. Upgraded from D to D+   Doo Ho Choi vs. Thiago Tavares Choi: If he can continue to improve his takedown defense, he’s very dangerous in the featherweight division. His striking accuracy is simply incredible. He’s a real sniper who has shown he can land perfectly in the smallest of openings. He’s a win away from being ranked in the weight class. Upgraded from C+ to B- Tavares: His grappling continues to impress, but if forced into a prolonged standing exchange he will more often than not be exposed. Grade remains C   Will Brooks vs. Ross Pearson Brooks: Not his best performance, but he took the fight on short notice in his UFC debut and was able to get the win. The push to the title conversation is silenced for now, but there’s no denying the guy is a talented fighter. Downgraded from B+ to B Pearson: He fought very well in this fight and took it to Brooks especially late in the fight. A solid performance that’s deserving a ranking improvement in defeat. Upgraded from C to C+   Amanda Cooper vs. Tatiana Suarez Cooper: Threatened with a submission briefly, but other than that this was one way traffic. Tough to gauge just how good Cooper is as this fight was a mismatch. Debut grade is D+ Suarez: Her wrestling credentials and ability are right near the top of the weight class. Combine that with her size and strength and she can compete with some of the better fighters in this division right now. Debut grade is C+   Khalil Rountree vs. Andrew Sanchez Rountree: He’s dangerous on the feet, but his lack of a ground game is a real cause for concern. Until he’s able to stop takedowns and find ways to grind out fights, it’s going to be difficult for him to do well in the UFC. Debut grade is D Sanchez: Solid performance from Sanchez as he did well on the feet and followed it up with a very good grappling intensive approach. Sanchez will be a tough out for many in this division given his well-rounded skill set. Debut grade is C-   Claudia Gadelha vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk Gadelha: If title fights were only three rounds, Gadelha would be the champion. Unfortunately for her, conditioning is critical in winning championship fights and that’s where her game is lacking. She slowed down dramatically in the championship rounds and lost a clear decision. She’s the second best fighter in this weight class, but needs to improve her cardio to become champion. Grade remains A Jedrzejczyk: She struggled with Gadelha’s aggression early, but she weathered the storm and really landed with volume and variety throughout the 25 minutes. Given the champion’s ability to push hard for all five rounds, it’s what sets her apart from her rivals in this weight class. Upgraded from A to A+

Written by Jay Primetown

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