When she lost her championship to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217, Joanna Jedrzejczyk suffered her first loss as a part of UFC. More importantly, she was without her women’s strawweight title for the first time in ages. Now, with a rematch ahead of her, Jedrzejczyk has the opportunity to win that championship back while setting up a fascinating third matchup with her nemesis in the process. Can Jedrzejczyk get the job done in one of the biggest fights of her career?
What has made Jedrzejczyk as successful as she has been in her career is her ability to throw more strikes than her opponents. Joanna’s strike rate is among the highest in UFC, without sacrificing any of her accuracy. During her loss to Namajunas, she was not able to get as many of those strikes off as she struggled with health issues as a result of her weight cut leading up to the fight.
In the rematch, Jedrzejczyk has to push the pace of the fight to match the frenetic pace that she is accustomed to. Getting the champion out of her comfort zone will make the fight much easier to win, especially against a champ who has lost a few fights already in her UFC career.
How Jedrzejczyk responds to this loss will be interesting, as we have seen another prolific UFC women’s champion struggle after losing her first fight en route to exiting UFC not too far after. That champion was Ronda Rousey, who lost two straight fights and was out of the sport shortly after her ascent to its pinnacle. While Joanna shouldn’t drop out of the fight game entirely with a loss here, she would be done competing for the UFC women’s strawweight title if she lost in this rematch, which would be a fate just as bad in her eyes.
Compared to boxing, UFC is a somewhat less predictable sport to call. Thanks to the larger gloves and greater protection for downed fighters, boxing tends to reward the better fighter even if they get knocked down during the course of a match. In UFC, meanwhile, bettors have to worry about the fact that one shot can knock down a fighter and they can immediately be pummelled into a stoppage while on the ground. That is a dimension that cannot be ignored during this fight.
Bettors will usually back a champion in droves heading into a title fight, because they must be doing something right to have earned a title. But in a sport like UFC where a champion can lose after taking one shot, there is some value in the challenger. Especially in the case of a fighter like Joanna, who is such a proficient striker. When using free bets on a boxing match, like the apparently mismatched Joshua vs Parker fight, punters may be able to use a different approach and could use a tactic similar to what they usually would for a UFC title bout.
Whether or not Joanna Jedrzejczyk can reclaim her title remains to be seen here, but how she will be remembered in UFC history will be decided in part at UFC 223.
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