The Great Debate: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Jessica Andrade

UFC 211 is so stacked that we decided to do something big for the Great Debate series. We have decided to do a Great Debate for all five of the main card fights. We also wanted to invite other members of the media to be part of the fun. So we will have five staff members of The MMA Takeover go head to head against five members of the MMA media world. Each day we will debate a different fight.

We have already debated Sergio Pettis vs Henry Cejudo (before it was canceled), Frankie Edgar vs Yair Rodriguez. and DemainMaia vs Jorge Masvidal. Now we shift our focus to the first of the two title fights. The first title fight up will be Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Jessica Andrade. The MMA Takeover staff writer Jason Powers will be debating against Derek Bowe from Derek Bowe MMA. Jason will be arguing for the defending champion, while Derek is picking the challenger.

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Why Joanna Jedrzejczyk Will Win by Jason Powers

Undefeated Strawweight Champion #1 Joanna Jedrzejczyk is set to defend her belt against Takeover’s #3 Strawweight, Jessica Andrade, this weekend at UFC 211.  This will be Jedrzejczyk’s fifth straight title defense while Andrade will be seeing her first title fight in her seven-year MMA career. So while you can train all day in the gym, there’s no substitute for title fights and getting into the championship rounds and finding another level, something Jedrzejczyk has proven she can do. Andrade has looked good (3-0) since dropping down to the UFC’s Strawweight division, but whom has she fought? She has yet to beat a top ten opponent in this division and the biggest win in her career is a split decision win over Raquel Pennington over 3 years ago… a win Pennington avenged by rear naked choke a little over a year later. Andrade is just in the right place at the right time, as she has run through the best of the division, some more than once, and the UFC needs some new blood to “challenge” her. Spoiler Alert: it won’t be Jessica Andrade.

Jedrzejczyk has a very decorated background in both Muay Thai and Kickboxing winning numerous European and World Championships prior to her move to MMA. A move that has seen one of the fastest and most successful rises of a star the sport has seen. Within two years of making her MMA debut, she was fighting in the UFC beating Juliana Lima. After that, she beat previously undefeated fighter and rival, Claudia Gadelha, for title elimination to set up a title fight with Carla Esparza. Jedrzejczk would dominate the fight, winning by TKO in the second round, and winning the belt she has yet to relinquish over 2 years and 4 defenses later. Gadelha and Kowalkiewicz, #2 and #4 fighters respectively in the division, have only lost to one woman in their MMA careers (0-3, 0-4 if you count Jedrzejczyki vs. Kowallkiewicz amateur fight)… to you guessed it, Jedrzejczyk. She has a complete stranglehold on this division and it won’t be released this weekend.

Where can this fight go that gives Andrade any hope? Jedrzejczyk is the best striker in the division, by a mile. She’s both technical and violent when it comes to her strikes and she can attack at every level. She utilizes her jab to perfection for range and is so precise with her striking it keeps her opponents off-balance. She has no wasted energy in her strikes and her footwork is incredible. Andrade is a good striker in her own right, but every area she is good at on the feet, Jedrzejczyk is better. She is also 4 inches taller and will be able to utilize reach to keep Andrade at bay and while Andrade may go for a clinch or takedown to get on the inside of Jedrzejczyk’s reach, Jedrzejczyk’s takedown defense is, like the majority of her game, on another level and her clinch game is good too. We’ve seen her utilize brutal elbows from this position to get her opponents to release the clinch. Andrade also doesn’t have good head movement, which means she is a sitting duck for a striker at the level of Jedrzejczyk. Even if Andrade is able to get Jedrzejczyk down, she won’t be able to keep her there. Gadelha might be the best wrestler in the division and she couldn’t.

Let’s talk about Jedrzejczyk’s obvious disdain for complacency and her need to become better than she already is. I liken it to Tiger Woods who was at the top of his game in golf in the early 2000’s then made a change with his swing coach because he knew he could get better, even being at the top of the world and at the time, the greatest golfer the sport has ever seen. Jedrzejczyk showed that same attitude when she joined American Top Team prior to her last fight against Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 205. She was already the champion at 12-0 and coming off of her third title defense.  She didn’t elaborate on the change in camps too much, other than saying she “needed the change”. One can only assume to get better at other areas in her game and to be able to train with better coaches and partners. And now she has a stable of training partners to help her do that, including the UFC Women’s Bantamweight champ, Amanda Nunes along with many other past champions and notable names, both men, and women (Masvidal, Straus, Lawal, etc.). She isn’t content with just being the best; she wants to be the greatest. What happens when the best becomes even better while still holding the title? Think Demetrious Johnson… bad news for the rest of that division starting with Andrade this weekend.

As far as this fight goes, Jedrzejczyk is notoriously a slow starter. Don’t get over-excited if Andrade has some success early in the fight. Jedrzejczyk is too smart and doesn’t get over-emotional even when it’s not going her way early. She will utilize her skill and length to set the tone on the feet causing Andrade to get frustrated and panic in the later rounds into ill-advised takedown attempts where Jedrzejczyk’s precise striking combinations will catch her in a mistake and end the fight. I trust better skill, more experience, and an always-full gas-tank to prevail. Jedrzejczyk by TKO (knee and punches) Round 4.

 

Why Jessica Andrade Will Win by Derek Bowe:

…..AND NEW!!! Yes, I said it, Jessica Andrade will defeat Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 211 to become the new UFC Strawweight Champion. Joanna Jędrzejczyk has been a dominant champion, largely because she is very flatly, a better striker than everyone in the division. Here is the caveat to that, Joanna Jędrzejczyk does not possess finishing power, or even staggering power for that matter. She has stopped Carla Esparza, and Jessica Penne, though those stoppages came after near twenty unanswered punches, she is a volume puncher. One of Jędrzejczyk’s biggest weapons is her jab, that was best on display in her second bout with Claudia Gadelha, where she took over from round three, until the finish, standing behind her stout jab, and top flight endurance. Jessica Andrade is the perfect fighter to get inside of the jab of Jędrzejczyk.

It was shown in her Angela Hill fight, you might be thinking to yourself, Hill is not Joanna Jędrzejczyk, that might be true, I will note for one, Hill was by far the very best version of herself, and attempted to use her jab in that fight. Jessica Andrade ate a pair of doubled up jabs early, and detractors would note, the jab is Joanna’s perfect weapon to halt Andrade’s unrelenting forward pressure, traditionally speaking, you would be correct. However, Andrade uses a tactic that allows her to negate the jab, she enters her combinations with a lunging lead hook to the body, followed by either a right hook or overhand right to the head. The lead hook is the key factor, it repeatedly caused Hill to drop her hands in defense of the damaging body shots, also making her hesitant to flick the jab out at will. As for Andrade, offense is surely her best defense, whereas she throws the lunging lead hook, she takes her head off the centerline, and her head is no longer there for the jab to land. Andrade possesses the endurance to go all day with Jędrzejczyk, the pace she keeps is torrid, and she is no worse for wear at the end of each of her fights at strawweight, she does not even appear to breathe heavily. Another weapon of Joanna Jędrzejczyk negated.
Joanna Jędrzejczyk will be forced to fight on her back foot the entire fight, this will make her uncomfortable because she is used to coming forward. Jędrzejczyk has been staggered each of her past two fights, dropped against Gadelha. Jędrzejczyk, with her very linear Muay Thai style, is extremely hittable, she cannot afford to be in this fight. The overwhelming pace, forward movement of Jędrzejczyk will force her to fight this bout in a phone booth, moving backward, a place she is not nearly as effective. Should it go to the ground, Andrade will enjoy a decided advantage over Jędrzejczyk. Andrade will hurt the champion on the feet, forcing a desperate, incompetent path to the ground where the challenger will get the finish. Prediction: Andrade via TKO in round 2.
We would like to thank Derek Bowe for helping us with this series. Make sure to like Derek’s facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DerekBoweOfficialMMA/ and follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekBowe7
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