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Who is Tatiana Suarez? Why A Female Was Picked First on TUF 23

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Eric Kowal

Eric Kowal

Owner/Editor/Journalist at MyMMANews
Founder of - After writing for Ultimate MMA magazine and serving as the editor for U.S. Combat Sports, both of which went on hiatus, I decided to venture out on my own and enlist a staff of writers and photographers that could help me achieve my goal of telling stories that would otherwise go untold. We pride ourselves in taking a deeper look into the fighter, and understanding what makes them click. - #1 Dad, Marine Corps Veteran, 80's and 90's Pro Wrestling Fan, MMA Commentator, Beer Lover, and avid movie watcher. Seriously..... I watch a lot of movies.

Who is Tatiana Suarez?  Why A Female Was Picked First on TUF 23

On this 23rd season of the hit television series, “The Ultimate Fighter,” the show takes a different approach combining both male and female contestants inside the TUF house.  We have only seen this once prior in 22 seasons on season 18, but that is just the beginning of what has made this current season “unpredictable.”

In the first fight of the season we saw two teammates (training partners on opposite teams inside the TUF house), competing against one another to see who advances in the tournament.  Cory Hendricks and Khalil Roundtree, both of Syndicate MMA were selected to fight one another by coach Joanna Jedrzejczyk.  Hendricks would win the bout putting Claudia Gadelha’s team up 1-0.Tatiana Suarez on TUF 23

The first female fight of the season was between Tatiana Suarez of Team Claudia Gadelha vs. JJ Aldrich on Team Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Many were surprised however in what happened before any of the fights took place.  Each season coaches flip a coin for their choice of pick between “first fighter,” or “first fight.”   Gadelha won the toss and chose to pick the first fighter.  You might think that with mixed martial arts being a predominately male sport, that Gadelha would choose a male fighter first.


The first fighter picked of all 16 fighters, both male and female, was Tatiana Suarez.

So Who Is Tatiana Suarez?

Tatiana Suarez is a 25-year old, undefeated professional mixed martial artist out of Millennia MMA in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She holds a 3-0 pro record but was also undefeated as an amateur.

Who is Tatiana Suarez?

Tatiana Suarez at IBJJF Worlds – Photo by Cory Beeson/K.O. Sports Management, LLC.

She is a four-time High School Wrestling National Champion, two-time World  Medalist in Freestyle Wrestling, and the 2013 IBJJF World Champion as a white belt, and the 2015 IBJJF World Champion as a blue belt.

Tatiana’s biggest fight however was outside off the wrestling mat and outside of the MMA cage.  She was diagnosed with and overcame thyroid cancer.

In 2011, Padilla was ranked No. 1 ranked in the nation at 55 kilograms by Team USA and was an apparent lock to represent the United States at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

A serious neck injury, and a subsequent diagnosis of thyroid cancer, stopped her in her tracks and Padilla put her dream aside while spending the next two years focused on getting healthy again.

Saurez made her transition to MMA, competing in her first amateur bout in 2014.  Fast forward to today, and you will see the result in the video below from the most recent episode of TUF 23.

Performance Replay: Tatiana Suarez vs. JJ Aldrich

Follow Tatiana Suarez on Facebook

Follow Tatiana Suarez on Twitter

Visit Tatiana Suarez’ Website


  1. Men and women were in the house on TUF 18. Also had Claudia taken a man first she still would have had first women's pick so taking Tatiana first overall or as the first women (3rd pick overall) would have really had no bearing.

  2. Good job girl you already have haters..

  3. New York New York c'mon man that's what you say after reading this?

  4. You go girl , you earned it.

  5. NY NY is a clown

  6. Let me tell u, Tatiana Suarez is awesome! She fights with humility and heart! Her mom has done an exdrodanary job raising her and her siblings. They are an awesome family! All the siblings are remarkable in everything they do! All heart! Wishing u much luck and not stop prayers for ur journey Tatiana!

  7. @Marcus Brandon NY NY She took a woman first because that is her division and she knows more about it compared to the male division which is completely different. It was smart also because now she can become friends with Suarez and train with her and learn more about her. I am sure Joanna would have done the same thing so the men were going to go 2nd regardless of who picked.

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