UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk defends her title for the fifth time when she meets Jessica Andrade at UFC 211 in May.
Since dismantling Carla Esparza to win the belt, the Pole has defeated Jessica Penne, Valerie Letourneau, Claudia Gadelha and most recently Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Defeating these women in the way that Joanna has, it’s created a question: Who can beat her?
If we look at the top fifteen, Joanna has defeated four names in that list, including the #1 and #2 ranked contenders. The Brazilian Andrade sits at #3, so assuming Joanna picks up another win, let’s look at who could face, and possibly dethrone the 29-year-old.
Rose Namajunas has been campaigning for a title shot for quite a while now, and has shown in previous bouts that she does have a dangerous ground game and ever improving striking. The level of her striking is nowhere near the level of Joanna’s, so it would likely be a case of Namajunas trying to get the fight to the floor, with Joanna trying to remain upright. “Thug” is currently coming off a loss to the aforementioned Kowalkiewicz, who lost to Joanna following that bout, so it’s unlikely it’ll be Rose’s next fight.
Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson are also possible contenders, with Torres being ranked #5 and Waterson #6. Torres is coming off a dominant win over Bec Rawlings, while Waterson last fought at UFC Sacramento, where she choked Paige VanZant unconscious in the first round. “The Karate Hottie” has a fight coming up; she faces the aforementioned Namajunas at UFC on FOX 24.
The fight between Waterson and Namajunas is certainly an intriguing stylistic match-up, with Waterson primarily being known as a striker, but as she showed last time, she has grappling skills too. This fight takes place on April 15, one month prior to the title fight, so don’t be surprised if we see the winner of this one next in line for a shot.
Torres has always been overlooked as a title challenger, but has done very well in mixed martial arts competition. With eight wins, and one loss, Torres has defeated some of the most well known names in women’s MMA. Paige VanZant, Felice Herrig, Rose Namajunas, Angela Hill, and Bec Rawlings are just some of the talent she has bested.
“The Tiny Tornado” lost for the first time in April of 2016, but rebounded with a win over Bec Rawlings in February of 2017.