Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight rivals Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha will settle their feud TONIGHT (Fri., July 8, 2016) at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 23 Finale inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jedrzejczyk has been largely untouchable inside the Octagon, capturing and defending the title in short order. The only exception to that came in his title eliminator bout with Gadelha, in which Jedrzejczyk scraped past her foe for a close split decision win.
Since that debatable loss to "Joanna Champion," Gadelha has only competed once but was dominant. Now, there’s nothing stopping the Brazilian from getting a shot at revenge.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Carla Esparza (UFC 185), Claudia Gadelha (UFC on FOX 13), Valerie Letourneau (UFC 193), Jessica Penne (UFC Fight Night 69)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Jedrzejczyk is a very accomplished Muay Thai fighter with some seriously strong takedown defense. She throws at a very high volume and maintains that pace across five rounds, which makes it difficult to outwork her.
To definitively beat Gadelha, Jedrzejczyk needs to do a couple things. First and foremost, Jedrzejczyk needs to do her best to establish her jab and long kicks early. Jedrzejczyk is the far more fluid striker on the outside, so if she can trap her opponent at range it would be very beneficial.
Additionally, I'd like to see Jedrzejczyk attack her foe's body and legs often. This is a five-round fight, and the last one took place at a grueling pace. If the Polish striker can wear down her opponent physically, it will pay dividends in the championship rounds.
Lastly, Jedrzejczyk needs to discourage takedown attempts as much as possible. In the last bout, an uppercut caught the Brazilian ducking and basically swung the decision to "Joanna Champion." She should look for the uppercut again, as well as the push off elbows she landed so effectively on Carla Esparza.
Key Wins: Jessica Aguilar (UFC 190), Valerie Letourneau (Wreck MMA), Tina Lahdemaki (UFC Fight Night 45)
Key Losses: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC on FOX 13)
Keys to Victory: Gadelha comes from a strong Brazilian jiu-jitsu background and is one of the strongest women in her division. Training out of Nova Uniao, Gadelha has developed a powerful wrestling game and rugged boxing attack as well.
In her last bout, Gadelha found success by pressuring her opponent with punches and takedowns. Individually, Jedrzejczyk is a very difficult woman to hit and defends the shot well. However, it is quite difficult to do both at once, and Gadelha managed to land enough hard punches to open up the takedown.
That should be the plan here as well. Early on, it may be a smart strategy for Gadelha to take the Cain Velasquez route and force wrestling exchanges. While they won't succeed immediately, Gadelha should be able to find opportunities to punch in the clinch and on the break.
Afterward, Gadelha can begin to pressure with power punches. So long as she mixes in some level change feints, she should be able to at least compete with the Muay Thai champion standing.
Last time, Gadelha's wrestling became more effective over time, as she wore through Jedrzejczyk's defense and found her range. That should be the case here as well, as that style of fighting is really difficult to defend over a long period of time.
Bottom Line: Both women seem to be pretty ahead of the curve, so the winner has a good chance to hold onto the title for a long time.
She actually hasn’t held the belt for all that long, but Jedrzejczyk already has the air of invincibility. If she can repel Gadelha a second time — ideally in dominant fashion — it would really become difficult to see Jedrzejczyk lose any time soon.
That said, if she does come up short, a trilogy match is likely in her future.
To Gadelha’s credit, she probably deserved to win the decision the first time around. However, that was some time ago, and both women have grown considerable since. If she can dethrone such a dominant champion, it sets her up very well to hang onto the strap.
It would be devastating for Gadelha to lose this fight. She’s already lost once, meaning earning a third shot would be quite difficult and time consuming. Plus, she can’t exactly wait for Jedrzejczyk to lose, as there isn’t anyone with a better chance of beating her than Gadelha herself.
TONIGHT at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha will thrown down. Which women will leave the Octagon strapped with gold?