Joanna Jedrzejczyk looks ready for another shot at strawweight gold.
In the main event at UFC Fight Night in Tampa, the longest reigning 115-pound champion in company history looked better than ever with a dominant showcase against Michelle Waterson in her return to strawweight after a brief stop in the flyweight division last year. After five rounds, Jedrzejczyk scored a unanimous decision victory with the scorecards reading 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 all in her favor.
Following the win, Jedrzejczyk wasted no time turning her attention to reigning strawweight champion Weili Zhang.
“Let’s go baby. Let’s fight for the belt,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Who is the real queen? Bow down, I’m the real queen. Dana [White], call you in a minute.”
Before the decision was rendered, Waterson tried to get off to a fast start as the fight got started as she immediately began looking for takedowns on the former strawweight champion but Jedrzejczyk showcased strong wrestling defense to keep the fight standing.
In the clinch, Jedrzejczyk was not only the stronger fighter but she was constantly attacking with a mix of knees, elbows and short punches to make Waterson pay for getting stuck in that position.
As the second round got underway, Jedrzejczyk was starting to get more comfortable with her combinations as she launched her punches and kicks in rapid fire succession with Waterson searching for a response. Every time the former Invicta FC champion managed to swoop inside with a takedown attempt, Jedrzejczyk quickly stood her up again before battering her from the clinch.
Front kick lands flush for Joanna! #UFCTampa pic.twitter.com/OT1JKCnaVU— UFC (@ufc) October 13, 2019
Just before the round ended, Jedrzejczyk connected with a stiff head kick that only furthered the damage done to Waterson’s nose, which was leaking blood down the front of her face.
Clearly ahead on the scorecards, Jedrzejczyk refused to slow down as she only upped her output by chipping away at Waterson’s foundation with a series of blistering kicks to the leg before then going back to the head.
With less than a minute remaining in the third round, Waterson had her best opportunity to seal a victory when she was able to take Jedrzejcyzk’s back following a brief grappling scramble. Waterson tried to latch onto a rear naked choke but the Polish powerhouse eventually worked her way free and then turned to throw machine-gun like punches on the feet until the horn sounded.
It was a surgical performance from Jedrzejczyk, who picked Waterson apart in every facet on the feet while finding new and creative ways to punish the Jackson-Wink trained fighter whenever they were locked in the clinch.
By the time the fifth round started the only serious damage inflicted on Jedrzejczyk was to her right foot, which was extremely swollen after connecting with so many kicks up and down Waterson’s entire body.
“I fought with broken foot since the end of the second round, beginning of the third,” Jedrzejczyk revealed afterwards.
Time was nearly expired when Waterson made a last ditch effort to get the finish by rushing forward yet again before taking Jedrzejcyzk’s back momentarily but once she lost the position, her brief momentum was stunted.
Jedrzejczyk then closed out the fight with a few more striking combinations that cemented her victory as she got back in the win column in her return to the 115-pound division.
"Even if the person is losing the fight, they're not a loser. They're a winner."@JoannaMMA post-fight speech ❤️ #UFCTampa pic.twitter.com/kHR07Fn3bE— UFC (@ufc) October 13, 2019
Considering her performance on Saturday night while stopping Waterson’s three fight win streak, Jedrzejczyk may have done enough to secure the next shot at Weili and the strawweight title. The only potential hurdle could be former champion Rose Namajunas, who holds a pair of wins over Jedrzejczyk from two previous meetings.