UFC 185 produced an interesting night of fights that not only provided some divisional clarity but crowned two new champions. One of the new titleholders became a star on Saturday night as she pummeled her way towards straw-weight gold and her name is Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
The first straw-weight title defense in UFC history hadn’t gained a lot of fanfare even though an entire season of The Ultimate Fighter was used as a vehicle to usher in the division. Carla Esparza seemed to have a firm lock on the title since her wrestling appeared to be unstoppable.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk stopped Esparza’s takedowns at every turn and blitzed her with striking accuracy that bordered on eerie. Jedrzejczyk’s takedown defense was surprising because she barely stopped Julianna Lima’s takedowns in her Octagon debut.
Jiu-jitsu practitioners and wrestlers go about their takedowns in slightly different ways. Lima didn’t power through her shots; Jedrzejczyk blocked all of them except one. Esparza does power through her shots and constantly keeps moving, which was the assumed difference on paper.
Jedrzejczyk caught Esparza with punches early and often. Esparza had that “Oh Shit” look on her face halfway into the first round, which was a sign that the fight was over right there. One round later, Jedrzejczyk made sure the only thing that kept Esparza standing were the punches that propped her up against the fence.
I watched this event at a bar with a friend of mine, and the patrons were relatively quiet until the women entered the cage. Everyone one of Jedrzejczyk’s punches earned a collection of “oohs,” which got louder and more concerned sounding with each blow landed.
When the show came to an end, many people talked about “That chick with that weird name,” and social media buzz echoes those sentiments with her entire name correctly spelled out.
Jedrzejczyk stated during fight week that she knew she would win because she knows how hard she trains and that no one will stop her. A statement like that would normally be a turn off due to the perceived arrogance of the claim.
The difference here is that it was easy to pick up on the authenticity in her voice that told us this was not an act but something she truly believes. An athlete who can hype a fight with such authority instead of coming off as a bad pro-wrestling imitation is a promoter’s dream.
Future events in Poland after April 11th are a sure thing as the country already has an established MMA fan base due to the KSW promotion. Now they have one of their own to endorse as she is the third European champion to win a UFC title and the first from Poland.
Make no mistake about it, the UFC has a new star on their hands. The new champion’s charming personality coupled with her dangerous skill set of impeccable striking and wall-like takedown defense will draw fans from inside and outside of the MMA bubble. I think it’s safe to say that Joanna Jedrzejczyk is the truth.