UFC 205 Fight Breakdown: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Karolina KowalkiewiczPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the women’s strawweight title fight between Polish fighters champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Joanna Jedrzejcyk (Record: 12-0, -410 Favorite, Power Ranking: A) The UFC strawweight champion enters her fourth title defense with an unblemished professional record. She’s coming off her toughest test to date where she came from behind and dominated the championship rounds to a win over rival Claudia Gadelha. The five-time IFMA world champion is without question the top striker in the strawweight division. Her Muay Thai accolades speak volumes to her ability on the feet. The first female European champion in UFC history, Jedrzejczyk lands strikes with a fantastic volume of over six significant strikes per minute in the Octagon. Perhaps even more impressive is that she only absorbs 2.32 significant strikes a minute for a difference of over four strikes per minute or nearly 100 strikes over a 25-minute contest compared to her opponents. Jedrzejczyk does a great job of putting pressure on her opponents and firing off combinations. Once she sees an opening, she fires five or six shots in combination. In a striking contest, she’s going to be very difficult to beat due to the volume with which she is able to throw. The champion has combined that striking arsenal with stout takedown defense. She’s defended 81 percent of takedowns attempted on her. Even in her last bout, Jedrzejczyk defended 9 of 13 takedowns against perhaps the top wrestler in the division. Joanna forces her opponents to compete with her in a stand-up contest and that’s a battle she hasn’t lost yet in her MMA career. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (Record: 10-0, +330 Underdog, Power Ranking: B-) The second-ranked strawweight in the world, Kowalkiewicz enters this matchup on a 10-fight winning streak having yet to lose in her professional career. She had previously been the KSW flyweight champion prior to making the jump to the UFC. In her last outing, she earned by far the biggest win of her career in out-striking fellow contender Rose Namajunas. The Polish strawweight is very much a movement striker. She fights at a really quick pace and excels with a pick-and-pop strategy. She does very well to land with combinations and then move out of range. In the Octagon, she’s constantly moving working for an angle that gives her an advantage. Thus far in her UFC career, she’s landed at an excellent clip at 5.98 significant strikes per minute. On the flip side, she’s absorbed just 3.87 strikes per minute.  In short, she lands with volume and is much tougher to hit. Her ground game is not too advanced, but she defends takedowns very well (90 percent takedown defense), and when taken down she does well to stall her opponent’s offense. Matchup A matchup of perhaps the two best strikers in the strawweight division sees the champion Jedrzejczyk defend her title against top contender Kowalkiewicz in an all-Polish clash. You can throw away the grappling in this matchup, as both fighters are focused in the stand-up game and will be keen to prove they are the best female striker in Poland. The offensive output is very similar for these two fighters, with the champ just above six strikes per minute, and the challenger at just under six. The key difference in this bout is defense. The champ has a 67 percent striking defense while her opponent is at 56 percent. Along those lines, Jedrzejczyk absorbs 1.5 less strikes per minute than Kowalkiewicz. In this kind of fight, I favor Jedrzejczyk. Her ability to avoid being hit should be the deciding factor in this fight. Both fighters will throw at a similar volume, but the champ is simply a lot better at avoiding her opponent’s strikes. Look for a fairly competitive fight on the feet, but at the end of each round, Jedrzejczyk should be ahead by landing more strikes. Both fighters are tough and durable. I expect this one to go the distance, with Jedrzejczyk keeping her belt by earning a unanimous-decision victory. The champion winning by decision is currently priced at -118 and worth a bet. Her last two title defenses have both gone the distance, and this one should as well.

Written by Jay Primetown

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