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June 2015: The New Ronda Rousey?

I’ve never been a huge MMA fan, but I find that starting to change after watching the new UFC sensation, Poland’s own Joanna Jędrzejczyk. I use the term “new” loosely because although she only has four UFC fights under her belt, this feisty 115 pound champion debuted in pro MMA in 2012 and before that was a six time Muay Thai world champion.

In fact, as she told me during my last interview with her on The FightBox Podcast, that the toughest fight she has ever had in her career was a kickboxing match versus Satoko Sasaki in the J-Girls promotion in Japan. She had Ernesto Hoost in her corner for this fight, which you can see for free on FightBox VoD here.

After her merciless beating of Jessica Penne at UFC Fight Night 69 in Berlin, Joanna really came into the spotlight, with MMA aficionados already calling her “the next Ronda Rousey”. Some have gone so far as to say that Jędrzejczyk is better than Rousey and that she is the best striker in the UFC, regardless of gender.

Well all of that might be jumping the gun a little bit, obviously her striking is incredible. Her lightning quick combination punching is what got her the stoppage in her title victory over Carla Esparza at UFC 185 and we also saw it against Penne too. However, with her confidence oozing in rounds two and three we got to also see a lot more varied striking from her this time including some punishing low kicks and some head kicks.

And that’s not to mention her takedown defense. In both of her last two fights, they were hyping how great of grapplers her opponents were and how it could be dangerous for her if the fight goes to the ground. While Esparza was able to take her off her feet, for the majority of the time Jędrzejczyk was able to stuff her takedown attempts and Penne was left completely helpless. So from now on, I think it would be more appropriate to ask “who has the standup to match Joanna” instead of trying to hype the grappling of her opponents. But with the talent pool in the women’s strawweight division still a little shallow, Joanna Jędrzejczyk is probably the best, as she so often claims she is, and just might be the next Ronda Rousey, at least terms of a long-reigning, dominant champion.

Living in Poland, I can really see that she is becoming a goddess here among fight fans and is without a doubt the most talked about fighter from this country. The best part is that her success has not gone to her head and she still seems to be a very likeable, personable, humble and confident person. On the two occasions I was able to interview her for my podcast she was very nice and willing to discuss whatever topic I indulged her with. I even got to see one of her training seminars in Rzeszów at the Millennium Muay Thai club and it was there that I really got to see just how intense she can be. In fact, it was almost comical to see how grown men almost twice her size could seem intimidated by her.

1st podcast:

2nd podcast:

Another thing that keeps popping up is what would happen in a fight between Rousey and Jędrzejczyk. Rousey is 20 pounds heavier (9 kg), so Joanna would definitely have to bulk up if the fight were to happen, because as we all know, Rousey doesn’t change her weight to fight anyone, not even Cyborg. But if Joanna’s previous fights are any indication of what might happen, I think she may give Ronda a bigger run for her money than a lot of people think. Rousey is a fantastic judoka and grappler, but has never faced anyone with the striking ability of Jędrzejczyk and Jędrzejczyk’s takedown defense and standing grappling defense seem to be on par.

Regardless, the fight may never happen, but Joanna Jędrzejczyk is definitely making me an MMA fan very quickly, as well as a lot of other people in Poland who may not have already taken to the sport. One thing we can all be grateful for though, is that at least there is finally a Polish MMA fighter more intriguing nowadays than Mariusz Pudzianowski.

- Daniel Austin (Don Roid) (blog) (podcast)



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