Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Joanna Jędrzejczyk

After four successful title defences and seven straight victories in the UFC, undefeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13-0) has cleared out the UFC Strawweight division and no obvious challenger lies in wait for the champion.

On Saturday night at UFC 205, Jedrzejczyk retained her title against top contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-1) scoring a 49-46 across all three judge’s scorecards. The previously undefeated challenger was supposed to pose the biggest challenge yet for the champion in a battle of Polish pride, however Jedrzejczyk dominated the first three rounds in familiar fashion.

Working her outstanding striking game, the 29-year-old used a variety of combinations, clinch striking and kicks to the body and legs to beat up Kowalkiewicz and despite some hard shots in return, one which broke the champion’s nose, and another which seemed to rock her in the fourth round, Jedrzejczyk mirrored her other title defences by never seemingly being in danger of losing during any point in the fight.

It’s this continued domination over the Strawweight division that has made the job of UFC matchmakers so much more problematic as without a worthy challenger, it’s hard to continue to showcase the talents of Jedrzejczyk and market her title defences.

A priority for the company in the aftermath of UFC 205 will be to find a legitimate contender for the Polish champion. Recently, Jedrzejczyk has stated her intention is to retire in the next couple of years to settle down and have a family which places even more importance on the promotion finding new challengers to create big fights for her rather than recycling contenders who have already tried and failed.

At the UFC 205 post-fight press conference, Dana White seemed to entertain the idea of going with the latter introducing the prospect of a rematch between the two Polish natives in their homeland and saying, “Maybe we put Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz together and see what happens.”

Although Gadelha should enter the conversation if she does in fact emerge victorious from her fight at UFC Fight Night 100 next week, the Brazilian has already been defeated by Jedrzejczyk and there is no evidence to suggest that a third meeting between the two would go any differently.

With the rest of the Strawweight division all trading wins and losses, a chance remains for a fighter to emerge above the rest to a level where not only can they be competitive with the Pol, but also can threaten her championship reign. That fighter could be former Bantamweight challenger Jessica Andrade (15-5).

Currently ranked #6 in the Official UFC Strawweight Rankings, Andrade recently moved down in weightclass from the Bantamweight division where despite some success, losses against Marion Reneau and Raquel Pennington stopped her from moving up into title contention.

The Brazilian has looked like an entirely different fighter since moving to Strawweight where she has buzzsawed her way through Jessica Penne (12-4) by second round TKO and dominated contender Joanne Calderwood (11-2) before getting the first round guillotine submission to go 2-0 in her new divisional home.

With another victory over a top 5 opponent in the division, the 25-year-old could be the biggest threat to Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s Strawweight crown yet. The champion has shown she is very hittable and against the Brazilian’s superior power, she could find herself taking the hardest shots of her career.

It’s a great match up on paper and would be beneficial for the division in the long run allowing some of those past contenders to build momentum again and other young fighters like Invicta alumni Michelle Waterson (13-4) and Alexa Grasso (9-0) time to develop before being pushed too quickly into contention.

The Brazilian has the speed, power and physicality to prove a new worthy challenger to “Joanna Champion” and a matchup between the two would allow Jedrzejczyk to continue building her fan pleasing legacy with a new exciting challenge rather than going through the motions against the same faces.