When analyzing shallow divisions like male heavyweights or most of WMMA, there’s always the question whether the champion is that good or the competition is that bad. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0) rests in the former category.
An international Muay Thai champion several times over, Joanna has proven herself unbeatable on the feet. She doesn’t have knockout power but her strikes are lightning quick and arrive in combination. It’s death by a thousand cuts; a single shot won’t buckle her opponent’s knees but eating dozens of these blows saps their will to fight. She’s most comfortable punching and kicking but her elbows and knees are nasty.
She’s a hit-and-run fighter, circling and angling off while tagging opponents with most of everything she throws. Her outfighting is incredible, but it’s not a walk in the park when fighters close the distance either. Along with her aforementioned elbows and knees, Joanna is strong. At 5′ 6″, she is gigantic for the strawweight division which is bolstered by her incredible cardio.
She can spend five rounds running circles around the best athletes in her class without breaking a sweat. Scary stuff.
With Joanna sitting on top of the division and the three-headed monster of Jessica Andrade, Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz sitting right below her, Rose Namajunas has emerged as a dark horse threat in the division.
She carries significant power in her hands and legs for a strawweight, meaning she can brawl with all but the most technical strikers. Her head kick knockdown over Michelle Waterson was particularly impressive as “The Karate Hottie” was thought to have a striking advantage. She’s also put a lot of work into her clinch grappling, allowing her full use of her 5′ 5″ frame. Slightly unrefined but well-rounded, Namajunas has come a long way in a short while.
But her split decision loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz is cause for concern.
She was the bigger fighter and landed hard shots, but her simple trip takedowns were no match for a fighter of Kowalkiewicz’s caliber. She didn’t check leg kicks and found herself on the back foot for the entire third round. Considering Kowalkiewicz is the “weakest” of the three below the champion, the loss doesn’t bode well.
It’s not a question of whether Joanna will win, but how.
Looking at the Kowalkiewicz fight as a blueprint, Joanna can do everything her fellow Pole can but way better. If Namajunas was getting picked apart and tired out in the third round of that fight, she’s in a world of hurt against the champion.
Jędrzejczyk via TKO
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