The UFC women's strawweight title is up for grabs this Friday at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale, and long-time top-ranked strawweight Jessica Aguilar believes challenger Claudia Gadelha can dethrone the champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Aguilar, who many considered to be the best strawweight in the world prior to joining the UFC rooster, knows a thing or two about Jedrzejczyk's opponent. Last year, Aguilar vacated her WSOF strawweight title to chase UFC gold by taking on Gadelha in a title eliminator bout at UFC 190. That night, Gadelha outpointed Aguilar to win a unanimous decision.
Since, Aguilar has been forced to sit on the sidelines due to an ACL injury, but she has kept an eye on the division, including the heated rematch between Gadelha and Jedrzejczyk that has been brewing in The Ultimate Fighter 23 reality show.
"I can't wait for that fight," Aguilar told MMA Fighting. "I've been watching the Ultimate Fighter, and I feel like Claudia is doing an awesome job at coaching her team. I haven't liked the way Joanna has been dealing with the whole situation."
Regardless of how Jedrzejczyk has come off in the TUF 23 reality show, Aguilar recognizes her talent as a fighter, but believes Gadelha can become the champion with the right strategy.
"I know Joanna is very skilled," Aguilar said. "I saw the first fight, and I thought it was a really close fight, and I think that if Claudia brings the right strategy, she can beat Joanna. But it's going to be a tough fight because Claudia, she gasses out very quickly, and Joanna keeps going, so it's going to be a good fight, but I think that, I don't even know who to pick. I honestly don't know. I feel like Claudia has a chance of winning, a huge chance, but she has to use the right strategy.
"We've seen Joanna in her previous fight, I think it was with Valerie [Letourneau], and you saw how she got taken down pretty easy. I mean, she's good at getting up, but we haven't seen her ground game. So, Claudia is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and if she can take her down, and hold her down, and use her jiu-jitsu, I feel like she can win the fight."