What’s Next For Joanna Jedrzejczyk And Tecia Torres?
Article courtesy of Zeke Schwab of MMA Freaks.
UFC: Calgary had an intriguing women’s strawweight match-up slated for its main card. The self-proclaimed queen of the division tasting the contender waters for the first time since 2015. After an unsuccessful rematch for the strawweight belt, Joanna Jedrzejczyk found herself fighting a three rounder against another fighter seeking redemption. The 5th ranked Tecia Torres got a huge opportunity to face the number one contender and former champion. This would be Tecia’s first fight back since her streak-snapping loss to Jessica Andrade in February.
I decided to rewatch the fight itself for a second time before writing this article. It wasn’t the Jedrzejczyk blowout I recalled it being from my first viewing. I thought that Torres kept up a strong clinch game but just couldn’t improvise enough to get Jedrzejczyk to the ground. Torres still managed to hurt Jedrzejczyk with a flurry in the waning moments of the second round. What we ended up with by the end of fifteen minutes was Jedrzejczyk’s volume and accuracy getting her the victory. Despite the victory, it was still Torres’s flurry that was the most interesting moment in the fight.
So what is next for these two top-five fighters? First, we’ll start with the ex-champion Jedrzejczyk.
UFC 228 has a huge strawweight fight in Jessica Andrade vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Most likely this fight results in the next title shot at 115 lbs. The fact that Jedrzejczyk got rocked by a fighter who has zero knockouts to her name is worrisome. Although the flurry was a split-second moment in an otherwise competitive affair, there weren’t any other moments that stood out during the three rounds. The UFC could try to make the argument that Jedrzejczyk’s last outing with Namajunas ended with a controversial decision. They could bill Jedrzejczyk’s third shot at Namajunas as one of redemption. To me, it seems like too much of a tough sell.
With Karolina owning a win over the strawweight champion and Andrade being an intimidating fighter there seems to be little hope in an immediate Namajunas rematch in Jedrzejczyk’s future.
Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha put on entertaining fights the last two times that they met. Both contests resulted in Jedrzejczyk winning, the first via split decision and the second unanimously. Gadelha was winning in their rematch until her cardio caught up to her. This might be the only interesting selling point for a trilogy fight. How would Jedrzejczyk do against a new and improved Gadelha in a three round fight? Has Gadelha fixed her cardio woes?
Before you ask what Jedrzejczyk has to gain from a third fight with Gadelha I think the answer is in the tepid Torres fight. There was little momentum gained for Jedrzejczyk in her last outing. Gadelha has the same situation from her bout with Carla Esparza. Many people thought that Gadelha lost that fight, and even she has brought up the idea of a rematch with Esparza. Alas, Esparza is slated for UFC 228 for a fight with the undefeated Tatiana Suarez. So this seems like the perfect opportunity for the UFC to run back a classic and see how these two perennial top dogs in the strawweight division have evolved and adapted since their 2016 showdown.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk has said that wants to win back the Strawweight belt before moving to flyweight. It is my personal opinion that the best route back to the strawweight title is through the flyweight division. Imagine if Jedrzejczyk would make the announcement that she, the number one strawweight contender, is moving up a weight class. There would be an incredible amount of buzz behind the move, as well as, a guaranteed top-5 flyweight opponent. With the women’s flyweight division suffering a lack of booking there are many opportunities for the ex-strawweight champion to make a splash. Katlyn Chookagian just won on the same card as Jedrzejczyk and would offer a great striking contest. Sijara Eubanks was on her way to fight for the inaugural flyweight championship until a bad weight cut got in the way. These both make great striking match-ups for Jedrzejczyk to set about regaining her throne. In the end, I don’t think that Jedrzejczyk will take this route back to Namajunas.
Now onto the “Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres. Torres needs to work out her mental game before stepping back into the octagon. After the Andrade fight, Torres mentioned that she was overthinking Andrade’s power and let that get the better of her. I feel like I saw the same thing occur against the number one strawweight contender. So how do we get Torres back on track?
These two fought back at Invicta FC 7 in 2013 with Torres getting the nod at the end. Years later its two fighters coming off losses to contenders. Felice Herrig last fought against Karolina Kowalkiewicz and lost via split decision to the former title challenger. Herrig finds herself in the same boat as Torres. They both need to figure out that final piece of code that will lead them to victory and a title. I think a rematch between Herrig and Torres would be a great prelim to watch and an important fight in the strawweight division. Who stays on the cusp of contender status and who moves out of contention completely?
The Loser of Andrade/Kowalkiewicz
I know that this is a longshot for two reasons. The fight itself isn’t until September, and the chances that either of these fighters leaves the fight without a long recovery period is slim. Kowalkiewicz and Andrade can take an unreal amount of punishment. Still, if Torres ends up fighting either one of these women there will be fireworks. With Torres willing to stand and trade we’d see a war with Kowalkiewicz or Andrade firing back. This would also be a great way for Torres to get right back into the strawweight title picture. Torres didn’t look terrible during her fight with Jedrzejczyk, just a little lost. So it doesn’t seem that far off for Torres to still be fighting top-five opponents.
Time Off to Restrategize
Tecia Torres is a force to be reckoned with when she is on her game. There just seems to be a mental block that stops her every time she gets a step up in competition. I think that Torres should take some time off to work on her mental game, as well as, in-ring IQ. There were moments of lost opportunity against Jedrzejczyk that I’m sure Torres will take harshly when she watches the replay. On any given night Torres will put on an entertaining fight and show why she is one of the best in the world. Instead of rushing back into the cage for an attempt to get back into the win column I truly think Torres should go back to the drawing board. Losing a decision to Jedrzejczyk is what everyone expected, but I don’t think anyone saw the Torres wobbling the ex-champ. Time off to get her personal affairs in order will free up her mind. Training with a sports psychologist could switch Torres from standing on the edge of greatness to standing with the best of the UFC’s strawweights.
We will all have to sit back and see what is going to happen next.