This Saturday in Melbourne Australia, Joanna Jedrzejczyk will look to defend her UFC women’s strawweight championship against Valerie Letourneau at the Etihad Stadium in to co-main event of UFC 193.
Ahead of the fight we decided to do a breakdown of the co-main event bout and look at what both women will have to do to emerge from the fight victorious.
It’s no secret that Joanna Jedrzejczyk likes to push the pace and keep the pressure on her opponents, wearing them down until she is able to unleash a flurry of strikes.
Joanna’s extensive Muay Thai background that saw her capture 6 world championships and 70 wins gives her a significant edge in many of her fights. Her utilization of close-range elbows on the inside is one of her most dangerous weapons, and due to the high percentage of cuts caused by elbows, it only takes one to change the momentum in a fight.
In addition to her relentless pace, vicious flurries, and deadly elbows, one of Joanna’s most dangerous yet overlooked weapons is her lead hook. Joanna uses the check lead hook very similarly to Nick Diaz. When Joanna’s opponents close the distance to engage in an exchange, Jedrzejczyk slides out of harms way and throws the lead hook. While it likely won’t end the fight, the hook is enough to fluster her opponents and prevent them from advancing.
This brief moment gives Joanna enough time to either launch a flurry of her own, or fire off a leg kick. In her last fight against Jessica Penne, Jedrzejczyk landed 35 leg kicks, which as we all know slow down a fighter over the course of the bout.
Valerie Letourneau on the other hand is an elite level striker herself, with 4 of her 8 professional wins coming by way of TKO. Letourneau is 5’7 and boasts a 68 inch reach, giving her a significant size and reach advantage over most of the women in her division, including Jedrzejczyk who is 5’6 and has a 65 inch reach.
Letourneau often finds success using a stiff jab to catch her opponents as they come in, often stunning them for a brief moment. Her jab in combination with her check left hook, which she uses similarly to Jedrzejczyk, gives her the opportunity to stay on the outside and counter strike against her opponents.
In her fight against Jessica Rakoczy back at UFC 186 in April of 2015, Letourenau showed off a very underrated submission game, reversing position after position and throwing up several submissions from various positions. With a 60% takedown success rate, we could even potentially see Letourneau surprise Jedrzejczyk and go for a takedown or trip from the clinch.
It is important to point out that according to the UFC.com breakdown, Jedrzejczyk absorbs just 1.38 strikes per minute in comparison to Letourneau absorbing 3.73 strikes per minute.
A large part of this fight will come down to whether or not Letourneau is able to keep Jedrzejczyk at a distance, where she will look to pick the champ apart. However, if Jedrzejczyk is able to close the distance and pressure Letourneau against the fence and land flurries and inside elbows like she has against her past opponents, the UFC women’s strawweight championship could leave around the waist of Joanna Jedrzejczyk.