The UFC’s strawweight belt is up for the challenge in this weekend’s UFC Fight Night: Berlin. Current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, better known as Joanna Champion, will defend her belt versus challenger Jessica Penne. Joanna’s been gearing up for the fight since taking the belt from the inaugural UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza earlier this year, and she’s become the fastest rising star in women’s mixed martial arts since Ronda Rousey.
On her UFC debut, Joanna faced Nova União Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Claudia Gadelha, who remains to this day the most danger Joanna Champion has faced in her professional career, has her prediction for this weekend’s title fight. In a conversation with Brazilian press in Rio de Janeiro, Gadelha called Joanna Champion the “toughest fighter in the division.” She elaborated on her striking, saying that she “has really good boxing, very heavy hands and very good takedown defense.”
She continued by saying that the division lacks someone who could take Joanna down, and that she thinks “Jessica won’t be able to take her down, and that Joanna will knock her out. Joanna’s chance is to take her down and work her jiu jitsu, but like I said, Joanna’s takedown defense is very good. I think I’m the only one who can take her down.”
Gadelha is currently scheduled to fight August 1st on the UFC 190, versus newly signed and WSOF strawweight champion Jessica Aguilar. Ronda Rousey defends her belt versus Brazilian bantamweight Bethe Correia on the same evening. If Gadelha emerges triumphant from her bout with Aguilar, she might get a chance to challenge the title, and if Joanna wins as Gadelha thinks she will, the Brazilian athlete would get a rematch to settle the score.
“I think they gave me this fight in August already thinking about the rematch. I really want to have a rematch versus Joanna, but I think it’s fair to do this fight first. I’m going in to win and challenge Joanna. I was intimidated by her boxing on our first fight, and I even got knocked down, but a fight is a fight, sometimes the beating comes in and you fall—it’s normal. It happened to me 10 seconds before the end of the first round, but I was better the entire round. I got overexcited, went to war, fought for three rounds with her. But now I know the way is to not leave any doubts and take her down, staying on top, beating her up. She’s a good boxer, has good takedown defense, but her jiu jitsu is weak.”
Joanna also wants to give that dance one more go—she told The MMA Hour that she “would like to fight with Gadelha one more time. I want to show everyone that I am simply the best.”
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