The UFC’s Strawweight Queen will face a familiar foe on July 8th, 2016. In a rematch of their 2014 fight, Joanna Jedrzejczyk will take on rightful #1 contender, Nova Uniao fighter: Claudia Gadelha.
This bout, much like the main event of UFC 200, is about more than just competition. It is a rivalry first and unlike any other, over the newest division in the UFC. In their first meeting at UFC on Fox 13, Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha fought to a extremely close split decision, with Jedrzejczyk earning the win.
She would go on to humiliate Carla Esparza en route to a Championship Belt and two title defenses. For her part, Gadelha was able to bounce back from her first lost with a dominant win over Jessica Aguilar.
With prospects like Rose Namajunas and Paige Van Zant still in their developmental stages, UFC brass made the smart decision to schedule a rematch between the Pole and the Brazilian.
Their upcoming fight, while billed as a rematch, might be more accurately categorized as a rubber match. While coaching an absolutely riveting season of the Ultimate Fighter, the two reportedly got into a full-fledged street fight. The results of that altercation much like the show itself were seen by only a handful of people.
There is considerable doubt as to the decisiveness of such an event, more likely than not it was quickly broken up, however what is clear is the intense rivalry between these two. This rivalry obviously began with their first fight in which many still argue Gadelha should have won.
Things began to simmer between them until they were selected to coach The Ultimate Fighter Season 23 and meet at the finale. If I were to thoroughly detail their beef it would behoove me to watch this season of TUF for some insight. At this point though, getting an eyeball tattoo seems more appealing. So lets leave it at this: Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha are not particularly fond of one another.
With that out of the way we naturally come to the quintessential prediction. The Strawweight Champ has shown herself to be an exemplary striker, facilitated by her solid take-down defense. Yet, that sprawl and brawl game was partially exposed in her last fight against Valeria Letourneau.
The Canadian was able to take her down on a couple of occasions and while she was unable to mount any significant offense, you can rest assure Gadelha would act a bit differently in a similar situation.
Jedrzejczyk is only a modest favorite and for good reason. Odds makers haven’t yet forgotten their first fight. While Gadelha has good striking, excellent wrestling, and high-level jiu-jitsu, she is also coming off of an 11-month hiatus. The Champion too is returning from a 9-month layoff due to injury.
MMA is a game of inches and those few months may be the key to this fight. Jedrzejczyk has fought in 3 Championship fights. She has gone the distance once and that experience is a clear edge over Gadelha. So too is her world class Muay Thai. While the Brazilian obviously has the better ground skills, I don’t see her being able to utilize them effectively if at all.
I see the Champion retaining her belt in clear unanimous decision victory.
On July 8th , 2016, sandwiched between UFC Fight Night 90 and UFC 200, is The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale. With so many great bouts in such a short span it is understandable that some have overlooked the Strawweight title fight.
In spite of this lack of attention, the two combatants look to prove to themselves who is the better mixed martial artist. For those watching, look for vicious Muay Thai. Look for legit BJJ. Look for takedowns stuffed with elbows and most of all, look for the Champion and Contender to leave it all in the octagon.