(Dave Mandel/Sherdog)Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Right Fight, Wrong Opponent Jay Anderson September 9, 2015 Events, Spotlight, UFC A little while back, in the wake of UFC 190, I threw out a suggestion: that it was time for the UFC to host its first all-female card. Now, the promotion has made the first steps in that direction by announcing that at UFC 193, women will be both the headliner and co-headliner, and both in title fights. With Ronda Rousey having been moved to the event in best paper writing service Melbourne, Australia in November following an injury to Robbie Lawler, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been moved over as well. While the double-bill of female fights also happened at UFC 184, that was a short-notice switch due to injury — and it certainly wasn’t in a stadium capable of holding 70,000. That’s exactly where this fight is. UFC 193 is a stadium show, with a huge audience anticipated, and with four women battling to be the best in their respective divisions. It’s big news. And it should allow Jedrzejczyk to shine, if she lives up to the level of her recent, dominant performances over Carla Esparza and Jessica Penne. It’s definitely the right fight to pair up with Rousey. Rousey is the it-girl, the biggest name in MMA right now. Using her fame to push some of the spotlight onto Jedrzejczyk is simply smart business. The MMA world is already on the Jedrzejczyk train, after all: she’s got a quirky personality and has proven to be a marketable champ. Now, the UFC just needs to let the rest of the world know that there’s more to WMMA than just Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Paige VanZant. In fact, the UFC has done an almost perfect job with UFC 193, which also features Mark Hunt meeting Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva for the second time, and an appearance by Michael Bisping. They missed an opportunity by saving Miesaha Tate vs. Amada Nunes for UFC 194 instead of placing it on the Australia card (thereby having three of the biggest WMMA fights currently possible at the same event), but other than that, they’ve done everything right. Except in selecting Jedrzejczyk’s opponent. Originally expected to face Claudia Gadelha in a rematch of their December 2014 meeting, an injury to Gadelha meant she would not be ready for the revised date of the fight at UFC 193. And so instead, the UFC selected tenth ranked Valeria Letourneau — despite higher ranked fighters like Joanne Calderwood and Randa Markos also coming off wins (though not having streaks currently). They did wisely keep the up-and-coming Paige VanZant away from Joanna Champion, but at the same time, in a UFC where fighters coming off a loss get title shots, the selection of Letourneau is puzzling. Most puzzling of all is why she was selected over fifth-ranked Tecia Torres, who is undefeated in the UFC and as a professional at 6-0. Torres does have a fight in December against Michelle Waterson, but short of some nagging injury, there’s no reason Waterson couldn’t face another opponent (Letourneau, for one). This isn’t to say that Letourneau isn’t a solid fighter; she’s doing exactly what she should here. However, the UFC could have put on a highly competitive bout in the co-main event of UFC 193 with the champion facing a top five opponent. Instead, they’ve gone with a heavy underdog when several other options were open to them. It’s the right fight — under the big spotlight next to Rousey — but the wrong opponent. Daniel Elton So you’d be picking Calderwood over Leterneau? You do realize Leterneau just easily won over Maryna Moroz, who in turn brutalized and submissioned Calderwood in the first round? Also, Val took Gadelha to the cards and lost a split decision, plus she’s big and could pose some problems for JJ. Ranking 3-10 are all fluff anyways, and JJ is the living proof that these rankings are meaningless. Val is about as good as any of these opponents not named Gadelha. Jay Anderson Calderwood is an option, but it’s a fight that should really go to Torres. She is undefeated and if you look at the names she holds wins over, they include VanZant, Herrig, Namajunas (TUF runner up), Angela Magana, and Angela Hill. Three of those are currently top fifteen in the UFC rankings – albeit those wins came outside the UFC, however I don’t discount them based on that. Beyond that, even if you consider the rankings to be fluffy, she’s winning, consistently. She was also one of the favorites to win TUF. If I’m making the matches, she gets the fight, Waterson gets a new opponent. Val is winning as well, but I’m not seeing the same level of competition. Which brings me to Maryna Moroz: yes she quickly dispatched of Calderwood, but I’m not sold on her yet. Calderwood was dealing with issues outside the cage immediately before that fight, she was clearly upset/not herself, and while it’s popular to say “no excuses” I don’t think that was the most focused, best Jojo we’ve seen. The quality of Moroz’s competition out of the UFC was also mixed (couple of losing record fighters, couple of solid, experienced fighters – not her fault mind you with the scarcity of WMMA fights available in some areas), yet one upset win and suddenly she had this massive value. I’m also not a fan of A beat B, and C beat A, therefore C beats B. That sort of MMA math rarely works out in the end. It eliminates styles, improvements made in training camps, and best of all, good ol’ fashioned luck. In any case – Chael talked himself into a LHW title shot, Gus was just gifted one, Nick Diaz was gifted one against GSP, all for the sake of marketability, so there have been far worse crimes. And it’s nothing against Val – I’ll be very torn between cheering for JJ at UFC 193, and cheering for Val since we’re both Canadian and I like to support our fighters – but it’s yet another example of how random the title selection process is, and of the fact that the rankings have little value when lower ranked fighters are awarded title shots over top five fighters (that’s a whole other can of worms, however). Juchi A former Torres fan, her performances in TUF and subsequently have been meh. I’m not sure what happened to the tiger in her, but it’s time she unleash it again. I’d like to see PVZ try to avenge her loss against Torres before Torres gets a title shot. Juchi While no longer a huge fan, I was still shocked to see that Torres is not even ranked in the top 10 by the Unified Women’s Pro MMA Rankings. Go figure. Luke Klein The UFC wants to showcase Jedrzejczyk as a mauler, and wants to give her an underdog so that this is a bloodbath. vanyogan I’m guessing that Torres didn’t want the fight? PVZ ain’t the only one who needs more time. TexasHwy This doesn’t seem like a well-reasoned column. Leterneau (#7) is ranked higher than Jojo Calderwood (#10) and Tiny Tornado (not ranked) in the Unified Women’s Top Ten, which is widely considered a better ranking system right now for W115 than the sportswriters’ chart, since most sportswriters only started covering W115 during TUF. Sherdog has her at #6 with Calderwood at #8 and Torres out of the Top 10 as well. She also has an impressive “common opponent” win over Calderwood in her fight with Moroz, who absolutely dominated Calderwood. Torres hasn’t put in a single exciting or impressive win in UFC yet, but with her athleticism has a lot of upside in the future. Why do you praise UFC matchmakers for “wisely” protecting PVZ from moving up too quickly, while you criticize them for not throwing Torres into the buzzsaw? PVZ has had exciting fights, dominating and smothering opponents, and scoring an impressive submission finish in her last fight. Torres has looked unspectacular. Yet you commend UFC for patience with Paige while wanting Torres in there ASAP with a killer like Joanna? Hmm…seems like either a double-standard, or a bias of some sort has creeped in here.