TUF 23 Finale Breakdown: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Claudia Gadelha

Joanna-JedrzejczykPrior 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 main event of TUF 23 Finale as Joanna Jedrzejczyk defends her title against her main rival Claudia Gadelha.   Claudia Gadelha (Record: 13-1, +110 Underdog, Fighter Grade: A) The 27-year old Brazilian looks to avenge her only career loss in her bout with Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The two fighters fought to a split decision in December 2014. Gadelha has fought once since he battle with Gadelha beating former World Series of Fighting Champion Jessica Aguilar by unanimous decision. The Nova Uniao product is without a doubt one of the top fighters in the strawweight division. She has an excellent jiu jitsu base holding a black belt under renowned coach Brazilian Pederneiras. The difference between Gadelha and other high level jiu jitsu fighters in this weight class is she a very good wrestling base. Gadelha secures a whopping 5.33 takedowns per 15 minutes in the cage, furthermore she’s succeeding in her takedowns at a fantastic 61% clip. In a fight against a very strong wrestler in Jessica Aguilar, Gadelha was able to score four takedowns. This is the bread and butter of Gadelha’s game, work in takedowns and control position on the ground. She has improved her striking and is one of the biggest punchers in the division, but it’s her grappling which makes her elite. Conditioning has been an issue for Gadelha. She’s in great physical shape, but she has a lot of muscle for the weight class which tends to slow fighters down as fights progress. Gadelha has never gone more than three rounds in her career.   Joanna Jedrzejczyk (Record: , -130 Favorite, Fighter Grade: A) The UFC strawweight champion enters her third title defense with an unblemished professional record. With that said, this will her toughest title fight to date as she’s facing the fighter who gave her the most difficult fight of her career in Claudia Gadelha. The five time IFMA world champion is without question the top striker in the strawweight division. Her muay thai accolades speaking 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 2.25 significant strikes a minute for a difference of nearly four strikes per minute or nearly 100 strikes over a 25 minute contest. Joanna 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 84% of takedowns attempted on her. With that said, Gadelha succeeded in securing seven takedowns when she faced Jedrzejczyk in 2014. Jedrzejczyk certainly did a good job of getting back to her feet in that bout, but it is still an area where she is vulnerable against formidable grapplers.   Match-up A match-up of the top two fighters in the strawweight division highlights The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale. When these two fighters fought in 2014, it was as close as could be on the judges’ scorecards. Jedrzejczyk got the best of the striking, while Gadelha had success in the grappling. In this rematch, it’s very likely to the same way. The champion will have success on the feet and will outland the Brazilian in total strikes. Ultimately, this fight comes down to just how much success Gadelha will have in the grappling department and just how long she’ll be able to hold her opponent on the mat. Gadelha’s conditioning will be a major factor in how this fight will play out. Gadelha has had difficulty in the past keeping pace throughout a three round, so a five round contest against an opponent that strikes with volume and does a good job of defending takedowns will test her conditioning. I believe that’s the difference in this bout. Over three rounds, I think this will once again be a very close contest, but in the championship rounds I expect the physicality of this contest will catch up to the challenger and for the champion to pull away in rounds four and five to win a decision on the scorecards.

Written by Jay Primetown

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