by Jason Howard Kelly
This week on the Ultimate Fighter was the battle of Britain as we saw England’s Helen Harper and Lanchana Green face off in the octagon. Both fighters looked impressive in their preliminary fights to get into the house, so we knew that this was going to be a good fight. Harper and Green did not disappoint.
As the first round got underway both fighters came out aggressive and looking to take control of the octagon. Green and Harper exchanged some solid strikes as they began to feel each other out in the early parts of the round. Green was fully utilizing her 3-inch reach advantage against Harper as she kept her at distance and was able to land some solid, precise strikes both with her hands and with her legs. Harper would eventually close the distance and wrap up Green in the clinch against the cage. This was definitely not where Green wanted to be, and neither did her coaches as you could hear the team leader, Claudia Gadelha, yelling, “I don’t want this game” whenever she got pressed up against the cage. Green was able to defend against Harper’s pressure against the cage, which compelled Harper to pull guard and attempt to bring Green down to the mat. Green stood her ground and started landing strikes from a standing position on the grounded Helen Harper. The round ended with a failed takedown attempt from Harper as Green was able to land a few more late strikes. Green’s volume and precision of her strikes earned her the first round from the judges.
The second round was an entirely different story. Both fighters, once again, came out aggressive and looking to establish the pace. However, this time it was Harper who immediately took control as she once again put Green in the clinch up against the cage. Green did her best to defend, but was eventually taken down by a nice leg sweep from Harper. From that point on it was all Helen Harper. She was able to land hard ground-and-pound from half guard as she smothered Lanchana Green on the ground. Green defended well by covering against the heavy shots and continuously trying to buck her hips to break Harper’s guard. Harper was able to maintain her strong presence on the ground as the bell sounded to end the second round. Harper had clearly dominated that round, and so it was on to a third and final round for the two Brits.
The third round was an exciting and close round as both fighters looked to seal up the victory. Harper once again did her best to push Green against the cage and dominate her in the clinch. However, Green did a nice job of breaking out of Harper’s clinch and landing well-timed, powerful strikes. The striking of Lanchana Green was the difference maker in this fight, and even more so in that final round. Every time Harper attempted to wrap up Green and take her down, Green would break out of it and land at least one or two solid strikes on the way out. Harper could not keep up with Green’s striking, and that would be her downfall.
Lanchana Green was declared the winner by unanimous decision. This was, arguably, the best fight of the season so far. It was a close fight the entire way through and both Lanchana Green and Helen Harper put on a very impressive performance. It was tough to see Harper so devastated after the fight, because she really could not have fought much better than she did. But don’t think for one second that Dana White the big wigs at the UFC didn’t take note of her great performance. It would be shocking if we don’t see Helen Harper back in a UFC octagon at some point in the future.
Claudia Gadleha’s team continues to roll along undefeated, and that streak may very well continue next week. Claudia picked Eric Spicely, an undefeated jiu-jitsu specialist from her team, against Elias Urbina, who was the very last pick for Joanna’s team.