Tag Archives: Joanna Jedrzejczyk

UFC 275: Teixeira vs Prochazka – Main card predictions

The UFC heads to Singapore for only the fifth time ever for UFC 275 this weekend as we’re treated to two huge title fights in the main events.

Glover Teixeira will defend the light heavyweight title for the first time when he takes on Jiri Prochazka in the headline fight, while Valentina Shevchenko will defend her flyweight title for the seventh time against first-time challenger Taila Santos.

We’ll also see the hotly anticipated rematch between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk as well as the likes of Manel Kape, Brendan Allen and Andre Fialho competing too.

We come into this card after a small break from picks. We sit at 634/987 (64.24%) with 272 perfect picks (42.9%) and you can see our total picks list here.

We’ll try to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims and then picking the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.

Jack Della Maddalena (11-2) vs Ramazan Emeev (20-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A really, really fun 170-pound scrap to open up this main card. Maddalena lost his first two professional fights but has gone unbeaten ever since, KO’ing Pete Rodriguez in his UFC debut at UFC 270 earlier this year. Emeev on the other hand is a decision machine, but was on the wrong end of a split decision against Danny Roberts last time out back in October.

Maddalena is a striking expert with a switch stance that allows him to throw power from both sides and with his hands and kicks. Emeev on the hand is a typical Dagestani fighter, with wrestling primarily and a strength that means he can hold people down and bore them into defeat. It’s a complete clash of styles and fans will be hopeful that Maddalena wins, because it means excitement.

Emeev will undoubtedly look for takedowns and use his heavy top pressure to keep the fight there for as long as possible, but he does very little damage while in that position. Maddalena will want to land heavy while standing but will know he’s still in the fight so long as the clock is ticking. Emeev’s takedown entries get worse as the fight wears on and by the time the third comes around he’s shattered, and Maddalena is the type to be able to punish him with just one opportunity.
PICK – Jack Della Maddalena via Knockout, Round 3

Rogerio Bontorin (16-4) vs Manel Kape (17-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Very exciting flyweight bout on the main card heading towards the top of the rankings. Bontorin has lost three of his last four, with one no contest in the middle of that, to be winless since way back in 2019. Kape suffered defeat in his first two UFC fights due to a lack of volume, but earned a highlight reel KO over Ode Osbourne at UFC 265 before a brilliant KO over Zhalgas Zhumagulov most recently at UFC Vegas 44.

Bontorin is a well-rounded fighter who has solid striking and great wrestling to use his solid submission game which has earned him 11 wins via tap out throughout his career. Kape on the other hand is an explosive striker who uses low kicks and movement before exploding with blitzes of strikes to hurt his opponents. His wrestling defence hasn’t been great in the UFC but in a fight that could be chaotic, it could really suit him.

Kape will want to get into exchanges to use his amazing hand speed and land first, but Bontorin will be aware of that and will look to get in close and grapple. Kape is a great scrambler though and their recent fights show Kape is adjusting well while Bontorin is struggling. Expect a close fight, but Kape to land the more eye-catching shots to earn the decision.
PICK – Manel Kape via Decision

Andre Fialho (16-4) vs Jake Matthews (17-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Absolute banger at welterweight in this one. Fialho appears on his third card in three months after KO wins over Miguel Baeza and then Cameron VanCamp, while Matthews makes his first appearance in 15 months after suffering defeat to Sean Brady at UFC 259 in his most recent bout.

Fialho is a terrific boxer who uses great power and positioning to outstrike opponents and while he has good grappling defence, he tends to try and keep fights standing. Matthews on the other hand looks to take his opponents down and implement his fearsome top game with relentless pressure and good wrestling. This one boils down to who wins the battle of where the fight will take place, and usually I’d back the wrestler.

But the Portuguese fighter showed against Stefan Sekulic that he is more than capable of defending himself in those positions and he has a nasty set of hooks that could catch Matthews out if he drops his hands for a takedown. Momentum is a big thing in fighting, so I’m leaning towards the power of Fialho to claim the win.
PICK – Andre Fialho via Knockout, Round 2

Zhang Weili (21-3) vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The greatest fight in women’s MMA history gets a rematch. Zhang Weili earned a win over Jedrzejczyk in their first bout back at UFC 248, but suffered back-to-back defeats to Rose Namajunas at UFC 261 and UFC 268 most recently while Joanna hasn’t fought since their first fight.

Weili is an incredibly well-rounded fighter with tremendous power in her hands, great speed and some great wrestling too to be able to mix it up. Jedrzejczyk on the other hand is one of the finest kickboxers in WMMA history who has got very good wrestling defence too. The first fight was splitting hairs to decide a winner but I don’t expect this second bout to be as close.

Jedrzejczyk has been away for over two years enjoying the fruits of her labour, while Weili has been learning from defeats and getting better. She has the hands and striking to be able to stand with Joanna if needs be, but I expect her to be more wrestling heavy this time around and even get a finish to earn the next title shot.
PICK – Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 2

Valentina Shevchenko (22-3) vs Taila Santos (19-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

‘Bullet’ Valentina wants to make a statement but there is a Brazilian who wants to spoil the party. Shevchenko is on an eight-fight win streak and looking to defend her title for the 7th time, after a KO win over Lauren Murphy at UFC 266 most recently. Santos lost her UFC debut but has won her last four in a row, picking up a dominant submission win over Joanne Wood last time out.

Shevchenko may be the most complete MMA fighter in the world, male or female, with amazing grappling combined with next level striking skills and knockout power. Santos however has shown a tremendously complete game herself with vicious knockout power, good wrestling skills and some jiu-jitsu also. Stylistically these two are very similar, but from what we’ve seen of them both Shevchenko is simply a level or two above everyone in her weight class.

Santos has made it clear that she plans to grapple her way to victory and Jennifer Maia showed there is a path there, but this is a huge step up in competition. Shevchenko tends to dictate the tempo of fights and as good as I believe Santos is, it’s nigh on impossible to pick against Shevchenko. I think it’ll be tougher than some of her more recent defences though, and I think it goes the distance.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Decision

Glover Teixeira (33-7) vs Jiri Prochazka (28-3-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Light heavyweight needs a big boost and this title fight could be exactly what the division needs as the championship is on the line. Teixeira is on a six-fight win streak and fights for the first time since submitting Jan Blachowicz to win the belt at UFC 267, while Prochazka makes his third UFC appearance after separating both Volkan Oezdemir (UFC 251) and Dominick Reyes (UFC Vegas 25) from their consciousness in his first two.

The champ is a brilliant boxer who uses great combinations to open up the chance for takedowns, where he can use his incredible jiu-jitsu skills and dominate the fight on the ground. Prochazka on the other hand is a violent striker who is every bit a sibling of the Terminator, walking through shots to inflict damage and having crazy show-stopping power. He has notoriously struggled against takedown artists in his career though, and that could be a problem.

However, despite that, Teixeira is 42-years-old and a lot of his most recent wins have come after being hurt by heavy-handed punchers. Prochazka will know that every fight starts standing and will force Teixeira backwards to try and shunt any takedown threat. If he gets taken down it will be a huge problem, but I expect him to slump the champ before that happens and claim a violent finish to become champion.
PICK – Jiri Prochazka via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 39 Fallout: Marina Rodriguez striking clinic makes her a contender

The UFC Vegas 39 main event didn’t quite go the way many expected as Marina Rodriguez survived a grappling onslaught from Mackenzie Dern to earn a brilliant decision win after a striking clinic.

The two Brazilian’s met in the strawweight division ranked as the number four and number six respectively, with a win for either woman opening up title contention in the near future.

Dern, who was on a five-fight win streak going into the bout, was the pre-fight favourite with the bookies and after an even first round she seemed to get the fight in the perfect place early in the second.

Dern got a takedown and immediately worked for a submission to end the bout early, with the fight finally where she wanted it to take place.

Rodriguez seemed to attempt a d’arce choke from the bottom in her defence and while Dern took a 10-8 round in many people’s eyes, Rodriguez survived the onslaught. That was the turning point in the fight.

Barring the final 30 seconds in the fourth round where Dern was once again able to get the fight to the ground, Rodriguez dominated on the feet.

She used her sharp jab, piercing right straight and an oblique kick to perfection as she pieced up Dern on the feet for the vast majority of the fight.

Marina Rodriguez of Brazil celebrates her victory over Mackenzie Dern in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX...

It was a rare occasion that the pure striker came out on top over the pure grappler in a mixed martial arts bout and showed that Rodriguez is a true contender in the weight class, proving she can go toe to toe with the best around and keep the fight in her world.

While Dern must go back to earning herself title contention, Rodriguez now looks ahead to a potential title eliminator bout.

Rose Namajunas and Weili Zhang will meet in the co-main event at UFC 268 next month with the 115lbs strawweight title on the line. The winner of that is likely to face Carla Esparza, who is on a five-fight win streak herself.

The UFC could potentially pair Rodriguez with Esparza in a rematch, with Rodriguez’s only professional defeat coming in a split decision loss to the former champion.

Marina Rodriguez of Brazil poses for a portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 09, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

If not, it could lead to a blockbuster match-up between Rodriguez and Jedrzejczyk who hasn’t fought since her stunning defeat to Zhang back in March 2020.

A striker’s paradise, the winner of that could then potentially claim a title shot too but it would also keep the top of the division moving in one of the most stacked weight classes on the roster.

With the likes of Yan Xiaonan also in the mix at the top end that’s important too, but Rodriguez is now in the drivers seat and has proven she is a legitimate threat to anyone in the division.

Who will be a female UFC champion in 2021?

As 2020 comes to an end, the UFC hasn’t seen much of a change at the top of each of its pyramids this year.

Weili Zhang, Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes all successfully defended their women’s strawweight, flyweight and featherweight championships while the bantamweight title went undefended.

Zhang went toe-to-toe with former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 in one of the best fights of the year, winning in a razor close split decision. Shevchenko defended her belt twice, first defeating Katlyn Chookagian in at UFC 247 in February via knockout in the third round, before going the distance against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 in November.

Nunes defended her featherweight championship at UFC 250, smashing through Felicia Spencer in a unanimous decision win before her second bout against Megan Anderson was called off and rescheduled for March, following injury to the Brazilian.

Looking into the future, it’s highly unlikely we see a change in the women’s divisions again, unless Nunes calls time on her glittering career. She spoke briefly about considering retirement after her partner Nina Ansaroff gave birth to their daughter, but she has a fight scheduled for March now and a win could spur her on to defend her bantamweight title again for the first time since December 2019.

At flyweight, Shevchenko is just leagues and levels above most of the division. The next challenger looks like it will be Jessica Andrade, but she was destroyed at 115lbs by Zhang and Shevchenko hits just as hard and is as good on the ground herself.

UFC 237: Namajunas v Andrade : News Photo
Could we see Andrade capture UFC gold again in 2021?

As for Zhang, the likelihood is that she’ll face Rose Namajunas next and while stylistically it’s a great match up I think the Chinese athlete will be able to get it done in similar fashion to the way she beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The division is deep, but with wins over JJ and Rose it’s tough to see anyone else good enough to take her crown.

There is always the possibility of a super-fight between two of the three women, although it’s far more likely to not include the Brazilian. Nunes has already beaten Shevchenko twice, although both were razor close decisions, and Dana White has admitted he doesn’t see much point in a trilogy fight.

Zhang and Shevchenko could however face each other, with the fight most likely to take place in Bullet’s flyweight division. Zhang has fantastic power in her punches and kicks and has a great submission game on the ground, something that Shevchenko would have to be wary of. But the Kyrgyzstan native is a master of range management and has similar power and craft, so I’d back her to retain her belt if that happened.

All in all, expect a lot of contenders to make a case in 2021 that they could be the next champion in their respective weight class but they will all have a tough task at toppling their respective queens.

Tap Ins & Tap Outs 2020 MMA Awards – Fight of the Year

The UFC have finally completed their set of fights for the year of 2020 and what a crazy year it was.

456 fights total in a year that saw a global pandemic bring a close to all live sports for almost two months at least before Dana White and co. became the leaders of getting the show back on the road.

Among those 456 fights we saw some incredible fights, some incredible knockouts and some incredible submission wins across the weight divisions. But which ones were the best?

We’re going to rank our personal top five of the year, before handing out the award for each of the following categories:


5. Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo (UFC 251, July 2020)

After COVID-19 put a stop to sport all over the world, the UFC made the remarkable decision to make ‘Fight Island’ become a reality. It was headlined by three title fights, including Yan vs Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title of the world.

In a bout described by commentator Jon Anik as ‘taking place on a napkin’, the two stood literally toe-to-toe and exchanged strikes for the best part of four rounds. Going to back and forth, Aldo landed his trademark leg kicks throughout causing damage while Yan proved to be the superior boxer.

The fight did enter a fifth round, but Yan dropped Aldo with a huge one-two and then absolutely battered him on the ground for almost three minutes. The referee earned criticism for not stopping the fight earlier but when he eventually did, Petr Yan was crowned the new king of the 135lbs division.

4. Shane Burgos vs Josh Emmett (UFC Vegas 3, June 2020)

The only three round fight on this list, it was just too good to leave out.

These two hard-hitting featherweights went hell for leather for the full 15 minutes, but more impressive was Josh Emmett tearing his ACL in the opening 15 seconds of the fight. That didn’t stop him giving it his all and landing his big overhand right throughout the fight, while Burgos continued to just march forward and eat the shots while returning with his own.

Emmett dropped Burgos in the second round with a left straight and with Burgos still grinning on the ground couldn’t get the finish, before a tight left-hook in the third round brought the same result and reaction. That second knockdown was enough to earn Emmett a 10-8 in one judge’s eyes, earning him a 29-28 and 29-27 unanimous decision win.

3. Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno (UFC 256, December 2020)

After both competing just three-weeks prior at UFC 255, the UFC moved quickly to pit champion Figueiredo and contender Moreno against one another after the previous main events had fallen through. What followed was arguably the greatest flyweight fight in history.

Both men came forward throwing bombs throughout the fight, while also staying competitive on the ground and in scrambles. It was a completely even fight, with both men completely in the running throughout, to the point where nobody could be sure of the result once the 25 minutes on the clock expired. In the end a point deduction for Figueiredo for a violent low blow proved vital, as the scorecards read 48-47 (Figueiredo), 47-47 and 47-47 for a majority draw. That means we get to run it back in 2021!

2. Dustin Poirier vs Dan Hooker (UFC Vegas 4, June 2020)

As Dustin Poirier made his first walk to the octagon since being submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov the previous year, Dan Hooker wanted to make a name for himself.

The Australian had beaten Paul Felder in February in an absolute war and had made it clear that he felt he could beat the ‘Diamond’ to get his own title shot. What followed was a stunning stand-up scrap in which both men showed unbelievable boxing technique and a true warrior spirit to stay standing throughout.

Hooker used his length and excellent hooks well, while Poirier used his sharp jab and fantastic head movement to get in and out as both guys landed power shots at will throughout an incredible 25 minutes.

In the end, Poirier got the nod 48-47, 48-46, 48-7 in a unanimous decision victory that has set up a rematch with Conor McGregor for January.

1. Weili Zhang vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 248, March 2020)

Without a doubt, the greatest women’s MMA fight of all-time. Therefore it absolutely has to be number one on this list for the best fight of 2020.

In her first title defence as the strawweight champion, Zhang took on the record holder for title fights in that division in Jedrzejczyk (hereby referred to as JJ). What ensued was an instant classic in what would be the final UFC pay-per-view in front of fans.

JJ used her world class kickboxing technique to bounce in and out of range, landing huge hook combos that would end with a leg kick more often than not. In return, Zhang threw absolute bombs and used her kicks well too. It was clear from the opening exchanges that Zhang was the more powerful woman, but JJ had a speed advantage and was keen to use it.

A huge right hand in the third round from Zhang landed flush on the forehead of JJ, causing her head to swell to the point where she was almost unrecognisable after the fight. The crowd gave the women a standing ovation as the bout entered it’s final 10 seconds, showing their appreciation.

The fight could legitimately have ended up with any scorecard and I don’t think anyone would have minded, but the champ retained her title with a 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 split decision. What a fight.