Claudia Gadelha and Joanna Jedrzejczyk are set to rematch for the UFC strawweight championship in the main event of TUF 23 Finale on July 8, and the rivalry became even bigger during the 23rd season of the reality show.
Gadelha, who lost a close split decision to Jedrzejczyk in December 2014, spent a month in Las Vegas coaching fighters on The Ultimate Fighter, and they got into a fight on the last day of filming after the cameras had been put away.
"The UFC was alert about not letting us alone with each other because they knew it would get ugly," Gadelha told Combate. "Every time we saw each other, it got ugly. We almost brawled a few times, but there was always someone around. In the last day, we were signing shirts, gloves and everything we had to do in the end of the season, and cameras were off. Joanna was coming back from the bathroom, and I was going to the bathroom. We bumped into each other and got face to face inside the gym. She showed me the middle finger, and I said something in English that got her pissed off.
"She looked at me and said ‘what?’ She was holding a bottle, and threw it at me. I dodged it. She was even angrier that I dodged it. She said ‘Do you want to fight?’ I said ‘Yes! Come!' She was 16 feet away from me, came in my direction and I didn’t move. But when she got close to me, she didn’t do anything. I pushed her, she pushed me back, and I kicked her. And then they held her back. She was like ‘don’t hold me’, but walking backwards like ‘hold me, but don’t hold me’ [laughs]."
The strawweight kept trading verbal shots at the "Unstoppable" press conference in Las Vegas, and Gadelha thinks her rival is desperately trying to imitate UFC star Conor McGregor.
"I think she’s trying to be like McGregor," said the Brazilian. "McGregor is very smart. He knows what he’s saying. If he says something and you answer, he knows how to fire back. And Joanna is stupid. The same way she fights, she is personally. If you go over her like a lion, she turns into a kitten. And it was like that with the trash talk. When she came like a lion, I went like a lion too, and she turned into a kitten and wouldn’t say anything."
Anxious to avenge her first professional loss, Gadelha, who bounced back to the win column with a unanimous decision victory over Jessica Aguilar at UFC 190, sees Jedrzejczyk’s ground game as her biggest weakness heading into the rematch.
"I don’t see Joanna beating me, being well prepared to fight five rounds," Gadelha said. "She’s a Muay Thai fighter with good takedown defense. Putting her with her back on the ground, she turns into a turtle. My game will be kick, punch, use my boxing and Muay Thai, but, if I have the opportunity, I’ll take her down too."