In a world where Joanna Jedrzejczyk does not exist, Claudia Gadelha is probably the UFC’s dominant strawweight champion. It is a point that Gadelha made apparent once again in Sao Paulo on Saturday night when she controlled Cortney Casey over three rounds to win a comfortable decision.
Through 16 professional fights, Jedrzejczyk is the only fighter to ever defeat the Brazilian. Unfortunately for Gadelha, it has happened twice.
In truth, their first fight could easily have been scored differently on a different night with different judges. Jedrzejczyk won by split decision, with two judges scoring 29-28 in her favour. Gadelha outlanded her opponent in two of the three rounds, and took Jedrzejczyk down seven times throughout the course of the fight. Of the notable media scores collated on MMA Decisions, 10 out of 12 scored the bout for Gadelha.
It was a win that catapulted Jedrzejczyk into title contention, and would have done the same for Gadelha had she won. That would have meant a title fight against the UFC’s inaugural strawweight champion Carla Esparza. It is a fight that Gadelha would have stood a great chance of winning. What might have been.
By the time Gadelha got her rematch, Jedrzejczyk was the UFC strawweight champion and had been making easy work of everyone she had faced since. Once again Gadelha pressured the Polish warrior in a way that nobody else has been able to. Gadelha dropped Jedrzejczyk early in the fight and comfortably won the first two rounds before Jedrzejczyk mounted a scintillating comeback to retain her title.
That defeat put Gadelha in an unenviable position. Far and away the second best fighter in the division based on record, and ability, another shot at Jedrzejczyk for the title now seems a long way off. Which raises the question. What exactly do they do with Claudia Gadelha next?
Fun Fights and Former Challengers
The fight with Cortney Casey on Saturday in Brazil was a banana skin that she avoided with relative ease. Casey is a natural flyweight who dwarfed Gadelha, and had displayed her power in previous wins over Cristina Stanciu and Randa Markos. Gadelha dispatched her comfortably and answered any questions asked regarding her ability to come back after the five round war with Jedrzejczyk.
Yet that performance was a reminder of the awkward position UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby now finds himself in. Joanna Jedrzejczyk needs a pipeline that produces new challengers. Matching Gadelha against anyone on the verge of a title shot is a risk.
Jessica Aguilar had been considered the number one strawweight in the world before Jedrzejczyk’s emergence. In three long rounds in Rio de Janeiro she saw her title aspirations destroyed by Gadelha. The problem that night was not only that Gadelha beat Aguilar, but that she made her look far worse than she really is. Any excitement surrounding Aguilar’s debut with the company dissipated in a hurry. Nobody talked about Aguilar as a title threat after that fight was done.
The Brazilian would remain a favourite against anyone else in the division, and it is a position the UFC have found themselves in before. It has been rumoured many times that the UFC’s initial plan was to have Jessica Eye challenge Ronda Rousey for the bantamweight title, before Holly Holm was given the shot. They unwisely matched Eye with Miesha Tate in a title eliminator, only for Tate to get the win and ruin their plans. It left the UFC opting to fast-track Holly Holm into a championship fight instead.
That is largely why Gadelha was matched with Casey in the first place. Nobody saw Casey as a future title threat, and Gadelha beating her posed no problem for future matchmaking in the division. That’s not to say that Casey posed no threat to Gadelha. Her size and power is a problem for anyone in the opening stages of a fight, and had she pulled the upset the UFC would have had a surprise contender added to the mix.
There remain a bunch of similarly fun rather than relevant fights for her at 115 pounds. Upcoming prospects such as Alexa Grasso, Paige VanZant and Rose Namajunas are likely to be kept well away from Gadelha for the foreseeable future.
Former title challengers with no clear route back, present the most obvious solution. Carla Esparza was beaten so decisively by Jedrzejczyk in their title bout back at UFC 185 that a rematch would be an almost impossible sell. It was the sort of defeat that made people forget that Esparza is one of the top strawweights on the planet, which she is. A fight with Gadelha feels like the most obvious next step in the careers of both fighters.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz was also outclassed against Jedrzejczyk in their recent title bout. That Kowalkiewicz rocked Jedrzejczyk for one brief moment in the fourth round was wildly misinterpreted as the challenger posing the champion her toughest test to date.
In reality Jedrzejczyk won all but a couple of minutes during the five round tussle. The champion outlanded Kowalkiewicz 171 to 50 in significant strikes overall. Bar the fourth round, where Kowalkiewicz briefly made it a contest, the challenger landed no more than eight significant strikes in any one round, with Jedrzejczyk outlanding her 43 to 5 in the final frame.
These are the sort of opponents that lie in Gadelha’s UFC future until she is able to beat enough of them to force another title shot.
Whether an opportunity arises because Jedrzejczyk loses the title, as it did for Miesha Tate when Ronda Rousey lost to Holly Holm, or because the UFC open up a flyweight division and Jedrzejczyk moves up to fight for that title, the possibilities are still there.
Or maybe Gadelha will keep beating fighters so convincingly, as she did Cortney Casey on Saturday night in Sao Paulo, that everyone’s hand is forced and a third fight with Jedrzejczyk is made. Until then fans get to buckle up and enjoy the ride, because fights with the likes of Esparza and Kowalkiewicz are truly mouthwatering prospects.
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Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou Official for UFC 220
UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts has its main event. Stipe Miocic (17-2) will put his belt on the line for the third time against rising heavyweight star, Francis Ngannou (11-1)
Rumors surrounded the match-up for UFC 220 after Ngannou’s first round knockout over Alistair Overeem, at UFC 218. The Cameroonian heavyweight called for the fight himself. In his octagon interview proceeding his most recent victory, Ngannou stated:
“I’m feeling good… I’m on my way to a title shot”.
— UFC (@ufc) December 10, 2017
The heavy handed Ngannou has finished all of his opponents in all of his six UFC bouts. A streak which includes a kimura submission over Anthony Hamilton and a TKO victory against former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski. Overall, he holds a ten fight win streak. His only defeat came by way of unanimous decision to Zoumana Cisse, in his second professional MMA fight.
If victorious, Ngannou would become the first African-born champion in UFC history.
Not to be diminished, Stipe Miocic rides his a streak of his own into the beantown match-up. Five consecutive wins, five knockouts and the past four of which, ended in the first round. A victory in Boston for the champ would make him the longest reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history. Currently, Miocic is one of three heavyweights, in the promotions entirety, whom has successfully defended the belt twice.
UFC 220 will be held at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on January 20th, 2018. The pay-per-view (PPV) card will also feature light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, as he faces challenger Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir.
Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview
Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.
LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.
Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.
Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)
The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.
In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.
Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.
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