Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3), formerly one of the most dominant fighters in the UFC, starts her quest to get back to the top of the strawweight division at UFC Fight Night 161 on Saturday (Oct. 12). Standing in her way is a woman that UFC management is hoping will become the next superstar in the weight class, Michelle Waterson (17-6).
Jedrzejczyk enters as a massive -400 favorite, despite losing three of her last four fights. By fight night Jedrzejczyk’s odds could be even shorter. Knowing that UFC lines roll out at a different pace than other sports, this UFC betting primer is essential for how to research for a successful UFC betting strategy.
The Polish kickboxer was arguably the most-feared striker in women’s MMA circa 2017, but her then-perfect record got its first blemish when Rose Namajunas scored a stunning TKO to take Jedrzejczyk’s strawweight title belt.
Jedrzejczyk also lost the rematch and then, after getting back in the win column against Tecia Torres, dropped a flyweight title fight to Valentina Shevchenko when she attempted to move up a division.
Now back at her preferred strawweight, the 5’6 Jedrzejczyk will have a considerable size advantage of the 5’3 Waterson.
While Waterson is riding a three-fight win streak, she is just 17-6 in her career and has never scored a win over anyone on Jedrzejczyk’s level. Like Jedrzejczyk, Waterson has a striking background (karate and muay Thai), but she will likely be looking to take this fight to the mat. She has scored nine submission wins in her career, though her last three were all by decision.
The big issue for Waterson will be size. In order to get the fight to the ground, she’ll have to get a takedown or a knockdown; she doesn’t have the size to land takedowns against Jedrzejczyk’s supremely good takedown defense, and Jedrzejczyk’s striking is, itself, elite.
At least it was.
We’ll find out if it still is this Saturday at 8:00 PM ET when Fight Night 161 goes from Amelie Arena in Tampa, FL. Fans can stream the entire card on ESPN+.