In the short existence of the UFC women's strawweight division, champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has made a name for herself in her last three fights. She has gone from an unrecognizable name to a fighter who MMA fans worldwide can easily identify. Despite her first title defense being shown on UFC Fight Pass, Jedrzejczyk is someone you shouldn't miss watching.
Inside the Octagon
If you are someone who constantly boos every time two MMA fighters grapple each other or take the fight to the ground (in which case I don't know why you watch MMA in the first place), then Jedrzejczyk is the fighter for you. She is a world-class striker and a 10-year veteran in Muay Thai with six titles. Jedrzejczyk constantly pushes the pace when the fight takes place standing up.
She isn't just an aggressive fighter; she is very effective when she is moving forward.
Bloody Elbow's Connor Ruebusch notes Jedrzejczyk's broken rhythm. This means she mixes up her attacks to keep her opponents guessing. Jedrzejczyk can utilize a string of feints to open up her opponents and set up her power shots. Ruebusch also notes how "small and controlled" her feints are. This economizes her movement, so she can bring in a real strike with quickness and power. If just a small feint can draw her opponent to react, it demonstrates Jedrzejczyk's mental edge in the octagon.
She also has superb takedown defense. Jedrzejczyk faced two excellent grapplers in her last two bouts, in Claudia Gadelha and Carla Esparza. In her battle with Esparza, Jedrzejczyk was able to fend off all but one of her takedown attempts. And when Esparza or Gadelha did take her down, she used her strength to get back on her feet and escape.
Outside the Octagon
Jedrzejczyk isn't a boring character to say the least. She has the personality to sell fights.
She's likable in the Manny Pacquiao/Gennady Golovkin sort of way, as in not too arrogant and has a bit of charm to her, similar to Golovkin.
However, she has more bravado than both boxers and is capable of getting under a fighter's skin. She will get in the face of fighters during staredowns at media day. She also does that weird wrestling stance pose during the weigh-in staredown.
Jedrzejczyk believes her tactics worked on Esparza, as she felt she was able to mentally break her down, she told Ariel Helwani during The MMA Hour. She also told Helwani that she has no bad feelings towards Esparza. (h/t MMAFighting.com's Marc Raimondi)
For the buildup with her fight against Jessica Penne this weekend in Berlin, Jedrzejczyk showed off her wit in her trash talk.
Jedrzejczyk also exudes a lot of confidence. She told Bleacher Report's Hunter Homistek that she plans on being "the Ronda Rousey of the strawweight division."
When a fighter sets the bar that high, it commands people to pay attention. Will she live up to the own hype she put upon herself? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, Jedrzejczyk brings an exciting style into the octagon and entertaining self-promotion tactics that will only earn her more fans as she progresses in her career.