With Claudia Gadelha’s team nearing a clean sweep on The Ultimate Fighter, potentially the first in the show’s history, we’re opting to do something a little different this week and bring you a pre-fight breakdown for TUF 23 Episode 8. Tonight’s fight pits Abdel Medjedoub from Team Gadelha against Joshua Stansbury from Team Jedrzejczyk.
Image: Vice’s Fightland
To this point, the most fascinating thing about Medjedoub has been that his wife nearly forced him off the show over a still undisclosed indiscretion. Dana White granted him an exemption never given to any other fighter on the show and allowed him to fly home to Montreal to patch things up. White’s only requirement (besides obviously not leaking any results) was that he be back before the weekend was over and the show’s next fight took place.
There’s far more to Medjedoub than his personal life though. Before coming on The Ultimate Fighter, the “The Blade” amassed a 3-0 record, all of his fights ending by a knockout/TKO in the first or second round. That’s an impressive run but it may be concerning though that it took him a span of four years to amass those three wins — the last of which came in 2013. What may be even more damning is that Medjedoub’s qualifying bout to get on TUF 23 was not even shown in its entirety. White buried his performance by saying he “smothered” John Paul Elias for the entire fight.
“The Sandman” Josh Stansbury certainly appears to have more upside on paper, making him the biggest threat to date to Team Gadelha’s streak. The East Liverpool, Ohio, native opened his career with losses to John Hawk and Dan Spohn, then ran off seven straight victories before becoming part of this season’s cast. In the process, he avenged both losses and finished 71% of his wins (five out of seven) by submission, showing his strength as a high level jiu-jitsu artist.
The bigger story for Stansbury is this fight is possible redemption for being eliminated from TUF 19 when he blew out his knee going for a takedown of Chris Fields. Fields advanced via injury but did little to take advantage of the opportunity, going on to drop a unanimous decision to Matt Van Buren on episode 9 that season. You could hardly blame Stansbury for vowing to come back and prove himself after that result.
Fighters like to talk about the “mental game” played outside of the cage before they step in with their opponent for the fight, particularly the elite level trash talkers like Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping, but for Stansbury, the game has been won without saying a word. Medjedoub has spent more time worrying about his marriage falling apart than his training opportunities on the show, and on paper, Stansbury has both a better record and more experience.
Since these are officially exhibition fights and taped in advance, you can’t even use terms like “huge upset” since no sports book would take odds on it, but it seems highly unlikely Team Gadelha moves to 7-0. We’ll see what happens on the eighth episode of TUF on Fox Sports One Wednesday night.