Leading up to UFC 205, we’ve seen and heard plenty about a certain slick talking Irishman looking to make history. And the co-main event between Tyron Woodley and “Wonderboy” Thompson that many think has fight of the night written all over it. With a card as stacked as UFC 205 it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle but let’s not forget about the most dominant UFC champion on this card, and arguably the most dominant current champ in the entire organization, the strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
On a card that showcases Thompson and Donald Cerrone, there’s a solid argument that Joanna’s striking is the best, not only on the card but maybe in all of the UFC today. This card being the first in New York City, and arguably the biggest card the UFC has put together, offers an opportunity for a number of fighters to make a name for themselves and showcase their skills in front of a gigantic audience. No one on the card is in a better position to take advantage of that opportunity, and make their star burn brighter in the sports world than “Joanna Violence.”
UFC 205 set-up to be a showcase for Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Some fighters, like Conor McGregor have a meteoric rise to stardom in the fight game, and seem to make their own stage. No matter where they go or who they fight, but not all stars have that kind of ability to draw people in on their own. Some fighters have all the skills, talent, and excitement to be a breakout star. They simply need the right stage to show that ability to the masses.
After wrecking Carla Esparza to capture the UFC strawweight belt, Jedrzejczyk used her insane striking abilities to turn Jessica Penne’s face into a fine pasta dish, and in her last fight was able to defeat Claudia Gadelha for the second time via decision. She without a doubt possesses the best striking of any female fighter in the UFC and in a world where we don’t know what we will be getting from a returning Ronda Rousey coming off of a loss and the only competition we have seen Cris”Cyborg” face in the UFC have been terribly over matched, she just might be the pound for pound best female fighter on the planet right now.
But if simply having technical skill and talent made you a star, Frankie Edgar would be making McGregor money and TJ Dillashaw would be on the cover of video games and be in every commercial the UFC produces.
To be a breakout star it takes more than just the pure skill inside the octagon, it take a personality and a certain “it” quality that most fighters and most athletes in general just don’t have in their nature. There’s a reason the Rouseys and McGregors only come around a few times in a generation if we are lucky. Watch one or two of Joanna’s staredowns with her opposition and it’ll be clear she has that colorfulness that can capture a wider audience than just the hardcore MMA fans.
An undefeated women’s champion who talks shit at the weigh in and yells into the camera asking “who’s next” after demolishing an opponent with an insane mix of speed, precision and timing that eventually overwhelmed anyone who has the nerve to step in the cage against this tiny polish murder machine. Add on to that the tales of her getting in a street fight with Claudia while filming The Ultimate Fighter and this recipe for a breakout star really starts to come together.
We will undoubtedly see fighters on Saturday night who embrace the big stage and the bright lights and we will see some who let the jitters get to them and let the moment be too big for them to handle. We see both sides of that coin at most every gigantic UFC event. Joanna is a six time world muay thai champion and someone who has headlined multiple fight cards in her MMA career so if I had to bet I would stay starting at the weigh ins and media scrums all the way through her title fight Saturday night, JJ will be more than capable of handling her moment when it arrives. With women’s MMA becoming bigger than it ever has been this all sets up perfectly as a showcase for Jedrzejczyk.
Joanna will step into the cage Saturday as the first of three UFC champions to defend her title on the card, and out of all three she is the heaviest favorite to retain her title as Bovada has her as a -400 favorite over fellow Poland native, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Unlike her last challenger Gadelha, there’s no doubt that Karolina, who has a background on muay thai, will look to keep the fight standing and engage in the striking battle with Joanna. Good luck with all that. That’s basically the equivalent here of choosing to jump into the water and engage a shark in it’s own domain.
Kowalkiewicz is a very talented striker who could out-strike a lot of fighters in the 115 pound division but Joanna simply seems to be on her own level. Her jab is one of the best in all of mixed martial arts today and the timing she has with her hands is breath taking.
Oh and did I mention she just about never gets tired even when fighting five rounds and has been reported to be in the best shape of her career heading into this fight after changing camps and joining American Top Team. We have seen many example of uber-talented fighters taking another step in their careers into truly elite territory after finding the right fit with top level coaching. (see TJ Dillashaw, Demetrious Johnson)
All those factors seem to be leading up to us possibly seeing the very best Joanna Jedrzejczyk that we have ever seen step foot inside the octagon. She has the right dance partner who is going to fight a fight that is right in her wheelhouse, has upped her level of training and coaching into the very top level and finally has the audience to showcase herself to the masses. When we are all watching UFC 205 this weekend the entire card will be absolutely must see, but once we get to the title fights that incredible card really kicks into high gear.
Joanna will be in the first of those title fights and the first ever UFC title fight in New York City. For the first time in her career all eyes will be on the strawweight champion and Saturday night Madison Square Garden, and all the world will be her stage.