Former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is possibly one win away from fighting for the title once again. First, she needs to get by “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson at UFC Fight Night 161 this weekend. Have a look at how the pair stack up before you put money down because it might not seem as obvious a choice to make as it looks.
Waterson is looking for her fourth straight win this weekend. She last topped former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz by decision in March, following point wins against established veteran Felice Herrig and Courtney Casey. However, Jedrzejczyk could be the one to end her streak.
Despite the fact Jedrzejczyk is 1-1 as of late, she is a volume fighter. This means she and Waterson match up well in that regard. Jedrzejczyk has 10 decisions of 15 total while Waterson has five (more on that later.) Jedrzejczyk is statistically better than Waterson in a volume fight.
According to UFC Stats, “Joanna Champion” is less accurate than Waterson with her significant strikes. Waterson leads with 58% accuracy to Jedrzejczyk’s 46%. However, Waterson is behind in every other stand-up category.
Jedrzejczyk lands 6.07 significant strikes per minute to Waterson’s 3.61 and has a small edge in strikes absorbed with 2.77 to Waterson’s 3.07. The widest gap is in striking defense. Jedrzejczyk sits at 66% with Waterson at 51%.
The Surprising Area Where the “Karate Hottie” Might Have an Advantage Over “Joanna Champion”
It’s crucial to note that Waterson does have a grappling advantage. The bulk of her career victories have come by submission, nine in all. She averages 2.19 takedowns per 15 minutes to Jedrzejczyk’s 0.14. The pair are almost even with takedown accuracy and submission attempts in the same time span.
OddsUSA feels the fight will hinge on one thing in Jedrzejczyk’s favor: takedown defense to keep things on the feet. The former champion is ahead in defense by a landslide, 80% against Waterson’s 62%.
Where things get interesting is in regard to pre-fight weigh-ins. Jedrzejczyk has fought at 115 pounds for much of her career but various sources she is reportedly struggling with the weight cut this time around, something she disputed when asked by MMAJunkie.com.
“Why you people ask me how I feel? I feel great, man. I’m going to be on weight, and I will face Michelle Waterson on Saturday. Beautiful weight like there’s nothing to worry about. I’m a professional, and I always take my business from the beginning to the end.”
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Maybe it’s time for her to consider moving to flyweight despite the loss.
“I kept my head up because I put on a good fight with Valentina Shevchenko. We saw her performing with Liz Carmouche, and she just ripped her head off. I was very proud I could stand with the real champ for all five rounds.”
As bettors, just be slightly wary as the effects of a bad cut, even if she makes weight as she has before, may show in the fight. Other than that, this should be business as usual as long as it’s a striking contest.
Prediction: Joanna Jedrzejczyk by decision