Joanna Jedrzejczyk looked a whole lot like Joanna Champion once again in a unanimous-decision win over Michelle Waterson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 161 in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday.
Both Waterson and Jedrzejczyk engaged in a clinch battle early on. While Waterson was aggressive to get the takedown early, Jedrzejczyk turned that aggression against her and used it to win a rather eventless opening round.
The second frame turned out to be more of the same. Seemingly everything Waterson tried, the former champion had an answer for. In the striking, Jedrzejczyk was simply too quick. When Waterson would attempt to score a takedown, the fight would go back to the clinch, where Joanna Violence would keep racking up the damage.
That closing window of victory opened for a moment in Round 3. The Karate Hottie seized a takedown opportunity and nearly scored a rear-naked choke, but a composed Jedrzejczyk was eventually able to work her way out of the hold.
It would turn out to be the rare bright spot for Waterson in what ended up being a vintage performance from Jedrzejczyk. It was a much-needed win for the Polish striker. After coming up empty in her flyweight title shot against Valentina Shevchenko, she proved that she can still be a viable threat in the strawweight division.
UFC Fight Night 161 Results
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk defeats Michelle Waterson via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
- Cub Swanson defeats Kron Gracie via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Niko Price defeats James Vick via KO (1:44 of Round 1)
- Amanda Ribas defeats Mackenzie Dern via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Matt Frevola defeats Luis Pena via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
- Eryk Anders defeats Gerald Meerschaert via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
- Ryan Spann defeats Devin Clark via submission (2:01 of Round 2)
- Mike Davis defeats Thomas Gifford via KO (4:45 of Round 3)
- Alex Morono defeats Max Griffin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
- Deiveson Figueiredo defeats Tim Elliott via submission (3:08 of Round 1)
- Marlon Vera defeats Andre Ewell via TKO (3:17 of Round 3)
- Miguel Baeza defeats Hector Aldana via TKO (2:32 of Round 2)
- Marvin Vettori defeats Andrew Sanchez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- JJ Aldrich defeats Lauren Mueller via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Cub Swanson vs. Kron Gracie
Kron Gracie was hoping to showcase his elite jiu-jitsu skills in a big spot as the co-main event of the card. Instead, he showcased a lot of guts and heart in a unanimous decision loss to veteran Cub Swanson.
Gracie, who suffered the first loss of his career, desperately wanted the fight to hit the floor, but found difficulty in pulling that off against the cagy Swanson. The 35-year-old turned the bout into a good old fashioned slobberknocker with a heavy emphasis on body blows.
Gracie did get more comfortable as the fight went on. While it looked like it was his first day boxing at times in the opening round the 31-year-old eventually settled in and was at least able to answer back.
His previous five professional fights all ended in first- or second-round submissions, but the Brazilian wasn't given the opportunity to ply his trade on the ground. There was a short skirmish toward the end of Round 3, but the savvy Swanson was able to escape unscathed.
It was a much needed win for Swanson as he snapped a four-fight losing streak. A fifth loss could have ended his UFC run. Instead, he has a little bit of life left and gave Gracie a lesson in the need to be a bit more well-rounded if he wants to make an impact in the division.
James Vick vs. Niko Price
James Vick learned a valuable lesson the hard way: Niko Price is dangerous from just about anywhere.
The former lightweight got a rough welcome to the welterweight division as Price scored a rare upkick knockout in the first round:
Price has made a habit of finishing people off his back. He also knocked out Randy Brown from the bottom due to punches. Price's upkick knockout is an ultra-rare event in UFC history, as noted by Michael Carroll of UFC Stats:
Vick was hoping to find new life in the welterweight division. Having lost three straight fights at lightweight, the 6'3" Texan made sense at 170 pounds, but Price is a difficult opponent to prepare for, as he has an uncanny ability to end fights in strange ways.
Price added another unique finish to his highlight reel, leaving Vick at rock bottom in his UFC career.
Mackenzie Dern vs. Amanda Ribas
The Mackenzie Dern hype train hit a serious snag on Saturday night with a one-sided decision loss to Amanda Ribas.
Dern, who was returning to the Octagon for the first time since the birth of her first child in June, looked lost as Ribas won all three rounds on all of the scorecards. An excellent game plan executed by the Brazilian rendered Dern's vaunted jiu-jitsu game a non-factor.
Ribas played the stick-and-move game to perfection as Dern never could close the distance long enough to get anything going. Ribas put Dern on the end of her jab and landed whenever she chose to let her hands go:
Dern may be the more well-known prospect in the women's strawweight division, but Ribas is building some momentum of her own. She's now 2-0 in the UFC; she submitted Emily Whitmire in her UFC debut.
If Dern is to make good on her potential as a submission ace, she's going to have to improve her striking defense and takedowns. Neither was up to par in this performance, and it resulted in her first loss.
Matt Frevola vs. Luis Pena
Much to the dismay of Luis Pena, Matt Frevola snuck a split-decision win in a fun lightweight fight.
Pena and Frevola engaged in a close back-and-forth with Pena's creativity providing a great contrast to Frevola's no-frills style. The Steamrolla landed takedowns and came forward with a strong overhand right, while Pena utilized some creative grappling to get back to his feet and threaten submissions.
Pena's chance to end the night early came in the second round when he landed a massive flying knee:
However, he wasn't able to capitalize as the scrappy Frevola fought to survive and made the most of his second chance. He kept plugging along and did enough to be announced the winner when the scorecards came in. Pena wasted no time in storming out of the Octagon after the cards were read.
Frevola now has two decision wins to his name with a draw against Lando Vannata to round out his last three fights. He should continue to see better competition with a win over a dangerous opponent in Pena.
Eryk Anders vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Eryk Anders fought Gerald Meerschaert to a split decision in a hotly contested middleweight bout to kick off the main card.
Anders set the tone early, setting up strikes with feints and keeping Meerschaert on his back foot. The aggression paid off as the former Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker clearly appeared to win the first round.
The second round is where things got interesting.
As cardio became more of a factor, Anders' striking became less-nuanced and more rudimentary. Meerschaert turned up the volume in response, and the closest round of the fight ensued. The eventual loser landed a body kick that froze Anders to end the round, but it wasn't enough in two of the judges' eyes to get the nod.
The third round favored Meerschaert, but the fight had already been decided once Anders survived his opponent's rush to end the bout.
Ultimately, it was a performance that isn't likely to raise either fighter's stock.
The once-promising prospect is doing what he can to regain some traction. He's now won back-to-back fights after dropping three in a row.