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Is ‘Joanna Champion’ again? Let’s discover out

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UFC Battle Night time: Is 'Joanna Champion' again? Let's discover out

Jedrzejczyk 'prepared' to problem Weili for title (0:45)

Joanna Jedrzejczyk says she was impressed by Zhang Weili's title victory and is able to problem her for the belt. For extra UFC, join right here for ESPN+ (0:45)

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ESPN MMA writers Jeff Wagenheim and Marc Raimondi break down Joanna Jedrzejczyk's spectacular victory over Michelle Waterson and what lies forward for each fighters.

Strawweight is Jedrzejczyk's dwelling

Is the danger well worth the reward? Sure, in fact it’s.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk has the sort of star energy that the UFC eternally craves and barely discovers. She's dynamic as a fighter and no much less in order a persona. She reigned for over two and a half years as strawweight champion, making 5 title defenses in a weight class the place all 4 of the others who've worn the belt — Carla Esparza, Rose Namajunas, Jessica Andrade and Zhang Weili — have only one profitable protection between them. Though Jedrzejczyk dropped her title to Namajunas in 2017 and misplaced to her once more in a rematch, there's nobody within the 115-pound division — not even "Thug Rose" — with a résumé that comes near matching the 32-year-old Jedrzejczyk's.

Now, after battering Michelle Waterson for 5 rounds on Saturday, Jedrzejczyk needs the chance to battle for her outdated crown. "Let's go, child," she mentioned contained in the Octagon after the lopsided unanimous determination was introduced. "Let's battle for the belt."

Needs to be a no brainer, proper?

UFC Battle Night time Replays on ESPN+

Each battle from UFC Battle Night time: Joanna vs. Waterson is out there to observe on ESPN+.

• Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Michelle Waterson
• Cub Swanson vs. Kron Gracie
• Niko Worth vs. James Vick
• Mackenzie Dern vs. Amanda Ribas
• Matt Frevola vs. Luiz Pena
• Eryk Anders vs. Gerald Meeschaert
• Ryan Spann vs. Devin Clark
• Thomas Gifford vs. Mike Davis
• Max Griffin vs. Alex Morono
• Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Tim Elliott
• Marlon Vera vs. Andre Ewell
• Miguez Baeza vs. Hector Aldana
• Marvin Vettori vs. Andrew Sanchez
• JJ Aldrich vs. Lauren Mueller

Watch the entire card on ESPN+

Not essentially. Within the lead-up to Saturday's card in Tampa, Florida, Jedrzejczyk was reported to have knowledgeable the UFC that she was going to have problem making weight. Come Friday, although, she stepped on the dimensions at 115.5 kilos, a half-pound beneath the restrict for a nontitle strawweight bout. So was the entire scare a lot ado about nothing?

That's what Dana White would have you ever imagine, calling it "head video games." However the concern was actual, and it's one thing the UFC goes to should take care of time and again for so long as Jedrzejczyk fights within the 115-pound division.

"I'm not a pure strawweight," Jedrzejczyk advised ESPN within the lead-up to battle week. "I bought to the strawweight division 5 years in the past after I signed with the UFC. It's not pure for me, however I'm doing my finest. I at all times battle two fights. One is earlier than the battle."

If the UFC books Jedrzejczyk as the primary challenger for Zhang, the promotion and the followers are going to should stroll on eggshells within the days earlier than weigh-ins, hoping for the perfect from the girl who needs nothing greater than to mud off her outdated "Joanna Champion" nickname.

Typically the calamities that befall title fights are out of the UFC's management. Fighters fall sick. Fighters fail drug exams. Issues occur. However this can be a state of affairs that the UFC does management. If the matchmakers, understanding what they do about Jedrzejczyk's struggles to make weight, choose to go forward and put her in a title battle anyway, any fight-week drama involving an athletic fee scale is on them.

However by no means thoughts that. Jedrzejczyk is the one. She has blown away each strawweight not named Rose. The lower to 115 clearly goes to be an ongoing problem for her, however that weight class is her dwelling. The place else is there for her to go? She tried transferring as much as flyweight final 12 months to problem Valentina Shevchenko, and that didn't go nicely for her. Strawweight is her area — or a minimum of it was for a very long time. Now she needs to reclaim her throne, and though the undefeated Tatiana Suarez could make a case for claiming the subsequent title shot, the strongest case was made on Saturday evening — within the battle and after it.

"Who's the actual queen?" Jedrzejczyk mentioned within the cage. "Bow down, bow down, I'm the actual queen. Dana, name you in a minute."

— Wagenheim

What's subsequent?


Bisping says Jedrzjczyk could be champion once more

Michael Bisping breaks down Joanna Jedrzejczyk's win vs. Michelle Waterson and says her future is shiny at 115 kilos. For extra UFC, join right here for ESPN+

Joanna Jedrzejczyk, strawweight

End result: Defeated Michelle Waterson through unanimous determination

Subsequent: Zhang Weili

Jedrzejczyk appeared each bit nearly as good towards Waterson as she did throughout her 5 title defenses. She bloodied Waterson with elbows and punches, stopped all however one insignificant takedown and pounded leg kicks — even with an injured proper foot. Jedrzejczyk's mixtures, counters and quantity — 180 vital strikes landed — have been simply an excessive amount of for Waterson.

Coming in, Jedrzejczyk was ranked No. four amongst girls's strawweights by ESPN and she or he is the clear option to get the title shot towards Zhang, who stopped Jessica Andrade to win the belt in August. The one different fighter with an actual case to be made for a shot is the undefeated Tatiana Suarez, however she remains to be recovering from a neck harm and doesn’t count on to be subsequent, Suarez advised ESPN. That leaves Jedrzejczyk, who has gone 2-Zero at strawweight since shedding twice to former champ Rose Namajunas. A bout between Jedrzejczyk, the OG divisional champion, towards new blood in Zhang must be extraordinarily compelling — particularly since each excel at placing.

Michelle Waterson, strawweight

End result: Defeated by Joanna Jedrzejczyk through unanimous determination

Subsequent: Alexa Grasso

Waterson got here into the battle towards Jedrzejczyk on a three-fight successful streak. A victory seemingly would have earned her a title shot and an opportunity to realize her dream: being the primary UFC champion who can be a mom. Saturday's defeat was a setback, nevertheless it doesn't put Waterson utterly out of title rivalry. She remains to be among the finest strawweight fighters on this planet.

A really fascinating subsequent matchup for her could be Grasso, who can be coming off a loss, to Carla Esparza final month. For the time being, Waterson is ranked No. 6 and Grasso No. 9 amongst strawweights by ESPN. It's a bout that is sensible within the divisional hierarchy and it will additionally inform us lots about the place every lady is at this level in her profession. Waterson is 33 years outdated and has been close to the highest of the strawweight and atomweight divisions for a few years. Grasso, 26, is predicted to be a future star at 115 kilos. One thing must give.

— Raimondi

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