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8/12/16: Top Fights to Make in UFC’s Strawweight Division
The 115 lb. division in the UFC has its clear next title fight lined up, but the rest of the field’s a little bit in flux given recent results. Here’s the top five fights to be made in the division given the current landscape.
5. Rose Namajunas vs. Maryna Moroz: “Thug” Rose’s loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz highlighted that there are still some significant areas to improve in her game. There’s still potential for her as an eventual title challenger in the division, but she needs a confidence boost and an opponent who will allow for some growth. Moroz is crafty yet not entirely dangerous for Namajunas’ style, and it’s the right top ten opponent for her to face at the moment.
4. Tecia Torres vs. Valerie Letourneau: It’s not a guarantee that Letourneau tries to make 115 lbs. again, but if that’s where she returns then Torres is a good fight for her to take. The “Tiny Tornado” dropped a decision to Namajunas in her last fight, but that was her first loss and doesn’t reflect poorly on her. Letourneau’s been beaten in two straight, but she went the distance with champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk and took a lot of damage from Joanne Calderwood before accumulated body strikes added up. This would be a competitive fight for both of them in looking to bounce back from recent losses.
3. Joanne Calderwood vs. Jessica Andrade: Calderwood’s 125 lb. victory was quite impressive, and she returns to 115 lbs. against the former 135 lb. competitor in Andrade. This was a real nice bit of matchmaking from Sean Shelby, and the winner is going to emerge having made a significant statement. Andrade demolished Jessica Penne in her divisional debut, beating her up for nearly eight minutes before the fight was finally stopped. Calderwood had an equally impressive – if not more so – victory over Letourneau, and this is a chance for her to show she’s back on track toward title contention.
2. Claudia Gadelha vs. Carla Esparza: Gadelha showed a ton of heart against Jedrzejczyk in their title fight, and took two rounds off her before the champ took over. Esparza finally returned to action in April for the first time since her own loss to Jedrzejczyk, and this is one of the rare spots where it makes sense to match up a fighter off a loss against one entering off a win. Gadelha’s still an elite competitor and would like to get another crack at the title. Esparza had been considered the best in the world until Jedrzejczyk took over. Let’s find out which of them has the shorter path back to that shot.
1. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz: This fight’s been put on a silver platter for the UFC. Kowalkiewicz beating Namajunas set up an all-Polish title fight, and it’s the only fight to make for Jedrzejczyk next. Kowalkiewicz leaves herself open to offense, but she’s got one hell of a chin, and can accumulate strikes nicely in an unrelenting attack. She’s going to be a good foil for the champion, and it’s going to make for an excellent matchup whether the UFC books it in Poland or a U.S. city with a significant Polish population. Do it right and this fight is big.
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