Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Valerie Letourneau Preview and Analysis – UFC 193

JoannaJedrzejczykThe co-main event of UFC 193 is Women’s Strawweight Title fight between champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Valerie Letourneau. This marks Jędrzejczyk’s second defense of her strawweight title since winning it by defeating Carla Esparza in March. Letourneau, on the other hand, has reeled off three straight wins in the UFC, including two at strawweight.   Joanna Jędrzejczyk (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC, -2150 favorite) Jędrzejczyk may be the fiercest striker in both women’s divisions. The 6 time World Muay Thai Champion has a devastating arsenal of punches, kicks, knees and elbows. Those strikes often leave her opponents reeling because they do not want to get hit. For a person that weighs around 125 pounds on fight night, she hits extremely hard. Jędrzejczyk fires rapid combinations to the head and body, and when her opponent drops her hands she will go upstairs with a high kick. The Champion’s right hand is likely her best weapon, she can fire it as a straight, a cross, an overhand, and an uppercut. That is not to say she solely relies on that right hand because she doesn’t. Jędrzejczyk also has a mean jab and left hook, which often sets up her other strikes. The Poland native likes to stalk her opponents, trap them against the cage, cut off their angles of escape, and unleash multi-strike combinations, which is what happened in her fights against Esparza and Jessica Penne. Keeping her distance, conditioning, and footwork are also important aspects of her game. The one area of concern is her ground game. Claudia Gadelha had her in some pretty big trouble a year ago but she was able to escape the arm-triangle choke that Gadelha secured. However, Jędrzejcz needs to work on her submission defense because she did not defend the arm-triangle the correct way. Regardless, Jędrzejczyk is adept at securing an underhook and getting back to her feet if she gets taken down at all. Carla Esparza is probably the best wrestler in the division and she could only manage one takedown against Jędrzejczyk. Additionally, Jędrzejczyk has good cardio and will push a hard pace for five full round if need be.   Valerie Letourneau (8-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC, +1300 underog) Letourneau has been around the sport for quite a while and has faced some of the biggest names in women’s mixed martial arts, such as Sarah Kaufman, Claudia Gadelha, and Alexis Davis. She lost all three of those fights, but she did manage to show her toughness and tenacity in those fights. However, Jędrzejczyk is a different beast than the three aforementioned fighters. This is only the third time Letourneau has cut down to 115 pounds and to be honest, she does not look very healthy on the scale. Letourneau is coming off decision wins over bottom of the barrel fighters in Elizabeth Phillips, Jessica Rakoczy, and Maryna Moroz. Letourneau is a big strawweight that uses her length to strike from a distance and her weight when she goes for takedowns and wants to hold her opponents down. Primarily a striker by trade, Letourneau fires quick punch-kick combinations that inflict a lot of damage on her opponents. Her jab sets everything up, as it is fast and quick. Letourneau also has a great right hand that she follows up nicely with a left hook. The most integral part of her game is to keep her opponents guessing by throwing different types of punches and kicks, which leaves her openings to land hard strikes. Another area of strength is to be able to slip her opponent’s punches, and fire back with punches and kicks. However, her head movement is not the greatest and she can be knocked down by superior strikers. Further, Letourneau does not have very good power in her strikes and lacks explosiveness and athleticism. The 32 year old has not shown much of a guard game, but she can hit takedowns when she needs to and is very happy to stay in top position. Letourneau’s size and strength advantage often make it harder for her opponent’s to get back to her feet. However, she is not much of a passer or offensive submission threat.   Thoughts I see this as being a completely one-sided affair, similar to how Jędrzejczyk versus Jessica Penna played out. Letourneau has decent kickboxing but it is nowhere near Jędrzejczyk’s level of striking. Further, Letourneau does not have the high level wrestling or jiu jitsu that would concern Jędrzejczyk. If this fight plays out entirely on the feet, Jędrzejczyk should be able to string together multi-strike combinations that will either knock Letourneau out cold or force the referee to intervene sometime before the final bell.   The Prediction: Joanna Jędrzejczyk defeats Valerie Letourneau by knockout (round 3)

Written by Mike James

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