Not too many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans and critics gave Valerie Letourneau much of a chance to derail the violent momentum of women's Strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, tonight (Sat., Nov. 14, 2015) in the co-main event of UFC 193, which took place inside Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
Unfortunately for Letourneau, she was unable to silence her naysayers, but she more than likely picked up countless new fans after going toe-to-toe with the Polish powerhouse for five grueling rounds.
Joanna came out pumping her jab as Letourneau calmly circled. Joanna came in a bit reckless and Letourneau made her pay for it, snagging her leg and completing a takedown. While on the ground, Letourneau began to drop elbows as Joanna attempted to get back to her feet. She eventually did, but Letourneau punished her on the way up with uppercuts.
The fight eventually made its way to the fence as the two battled for position, Letourneau making Joanna carry her weight while softening her up with short shots. Joanna landed a devastating front kick on the break, dazing Letourneau, who stared off into space clearly hurt. She recovered quick, though, tying up Joanna along the cage so she could collect herself.
Joanna landed another front kick right down the middle, and with Letourneau's nose bloodied, began to look a but more comfortable. Letourneau battled back, but Joanna headed into her corner with momentum.
The champion came out for round two pumping combinations as Letourneau responded with a high kick that missed its mark. Joanna landed a nice kick to the body, which Letourneau caught and used to land a few nice shots. As the pair tied up along the cage, Joanna scored with short elbows to the face and knees to the body, forcing Letourneau to retreat to the center of the Octagon.
Midway through round two, Letourneau landed a nice hook over the top -- and several straight right hands -- as Joanna struggled to close the distance. Joanna did find a home for her body kicks, though, which she followed up with combinations. Joanna continued to pressure Letourneau, who looked to be fading a bit, as the pair once again headed into their corners.
Letourneau immediately looked to close the distance to start round three, but Joanna quickly reversed her along the fence. The fight soon spun out into the center of the Octagon as Joanna continued to attack Letourneau's legs. Once again, Joanna landed another crushing front kick that stopped Letourneau in her tracks. Half-way point of the match and both women traded shots, as Joanna appeared to start connecting with more than just her legs.
Joanna landed a nice one-two combination with one minute remaining, then another kick to the body, but Letourneau kept firing back. Letourneau took a deep breath with about 20 seconds to go as Joanna finished the round, looking stronger than she did in the first.
During the break, Letourneau's corner pleaded with her to "switch things up" and try and get the fight to the ground. But, before she could even think, Joanna was in her face, bouncing jabs off her forehead repeatedly. Letourneau didn't back down, responding with a kick to the breadbasket as the crowd began to roar in appreciation.
Joanna landed a low kick, then a right cross -- and a left jab -- that appeared to take the wind out of Letourneau's sails. With one minute remaining, she attempted a front kick of her own, but it was lazy and Joanna drilled her with a straight right. Letourneau's defense really began to slip toward the end of the round -- Joanna appeared to land just about anything she threw. And as the bell sounded, Joanna landed a solid left cross.
Fifth and final round, with Joanna likely up two rounds on our unofficial scorecard. As the two warriors came out for the last chapter, the crowd showered them with applause. Letourneau got the action started with a body kick, but Joanna snapped her head back with another stiff jab. Joanna continued to keep up the pressure, while Letourneau countered with kicks to the body and wild hooks that didn't land.
With less than one minute remaining in the match, Joanna clubbed Letourneau with repeated left hooks. Letourneau was extremely game, but she just could not compete with Joanna in a Muay Thai match ... not sure any 115-pound female on UFC's roster can. Nonetheless, she turned in a valiant effort, showed a ton of heart, but came up short on the judges scorecards via unanimous decision.