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State of the UFC Women’s Strawweight Division

Vinny Craig




Joanna Jedrzejczyk

The champion put together one of the best striking performances ever, but was also met with some very good defense by her counterpart. ‘Joanna Champion’ had 220 Significant Strikes landed, the second most ever by a fighter behind Nate Diaz at UFC 141. She states several times after her fight that she most likely broke her hand, which could mean a lengthy layoff. Expect the champ to be available for another title defense second quarter next year.

Next In-Line

Claudia Gadelha

She was considered the number one contender after her victory over Jessica Aguilar at UFC 190. Unfortunately a hand injury kept her out of the next title shot and was passed over by Letourneau. She fought the champ at UFC on Fox 13 and took it to a Split-Decision where many thought she won. Her grappling is some of the best in the division and could put the champion on her back and in trouble. Expect the fight between her and Jedrzejczyk to happen around March or April of next year.


The Present

Tecia Torres

She has a big fight with former Invicta Atomweight champion Michelle Waterson at UFC 194. A winner of both of her UFC fights and all six professional fights, ‘The Tiny Tornado’ is in a good spot to be in a title fight soon. With the division wide open, Torres could see herself in front of the champ sometime next year. Her fight with Waterson will determine a lot in the divison.

Randa Markos

The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 dark horse has impressed in her two UFC fights. After beating the more known and experienced Torres in the season, Markos found herself in the semi-finals against Rose Namajunas where she was submitted. She would lose a close fight to future title challenger Jessica Penne by Split-Decision. Her follow up fight with fellow show mate Aisling Daly was a decision win where she looked good. ‘Quiet Storm’ moved camps from Michigan Top Team to Tri Star which should be step up in training and coaching. She has a fight with newly signed Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC on Fox 17 on December 19.

Rose Namajunas

‘Thug’ Rose has made headlines lately for shaving her head to a buzz cut, but that doesn’t changer her talent level. Namajunas has only fought once since losing on the finale for TUF 20 and the chance for the title. She fought now released Angela Hill at UFC 192 and picked up a Rear-Naked Choke win. She took a short notice fight with Paige VanZant in a headliner for UFC Fight Night 80 in December.

Valerie Letourneau

I didn’t think it was possible for someone who lost so decisively to gain so much respect, but that’s exactly what Valerie Letourneau did. She took everything the champ had in the co-main event of UFC 193, absorbing 220 Significant Strikes, but was never finished and never quit. If she can continue to make the weight, Letourneau will be given some big fights in this division and I think we’ll see her in another title fight at some point.

Paige VanZant

Many have wondered if she’ll get the fast track to a title shot because of her popularity. Paige is not skating by right now with three straight wins, all in dominating fashion. VanZant was given a headliner role at UFC Fight Night 80 against Joanna Calderwood, who was injured and replaced by Rose Namajunas. A fight with a true top 10 will give us a better sense of where she is at, and we could expect her in a top contender fight early next year with a win over Namajunas.

The Future

Michelle Waterson

The recently signed Waterson looked good in her first fight with the organization with a submission win over Angela Magana. Just like the rest of the top division, Waterson has a fight lined up with former Invicta co –star Tecia Torres. It’s another fight with possible immediate title implications as one of those two could be in a title fight as early as next year.

Maryna Moroz

Moroz burst onto the scene at UFC Fight Night 64 when she submitted Joanne Calderwood with an Armbar. That fight set Moroz up for success with a big name, but she was reset with a loss to title challenger Valerie Letourneau. Moroz is still just 24 years old and has a ton of time to groom her game. Look for the UFC to slowly build a resume for the Ukrainian sensation.

Joanne Calderwood

The UFC wanted so badly to get a Jedrzejczyk-Calderwood fight in Scotland for the title. They gave her a seemingly easy opponent in Maryna Moroz, but ‘JoJo’ couldn’t get it done. With the loss on TUF and the loss to Moroz, Calderwood has escaped the immediate presence of being a champion.  Her win over Cortney Casey but her back in the picture for now, but her lack of presence has made it difficult for the UFC to build her up.

Carla Esparza

After 8 months of no activity while recovering from injury, the former Invicta and UFC champion may be ready to go next year. As long as Jedrzejczyk is champion, Esparza’s chances for another title shot are slim with how she lost. The only thing Esparza can do is get back in there and rack up the wins.

Long Shot

Jessica Penne

The same thing for Esparza goes for Penne. Her loss to the current champion makes it hard for the UFC to put her in there again. She has yet to get back into the octagon, but could easily jump into the present category. A second fight between her and Michelle Waterson could be in the works if Waterson can’t get past Torres at UFC 194.

Aisling Daly

The Irish woman has three fights in the division, more than most. She last fought, and won, in front of her home country crowd at UFC Fight Night Dublin. She is 2-1 with the lone loss coming to Markos in a fight where she wasn’t finished. Her next two fights are crucial in who her opponents are and how she fares against them.



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Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223



UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.


Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.

After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.

A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.

Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.

Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.

A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.

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Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet



Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Fight Announcements

Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April



MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by, came Sunday night before confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.


The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.

Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.

An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.

His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).

Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.

PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.

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