Posted July 1, 2015 by Sydnie Jones in Editorials

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Jessica Penne: June’s Fight of the Month

In our new Fight of the Month feature, our editor in chief Sydnie Jones, writer Melanie Gale, and a fighter will weigh in on our favorite WMMA fight of the past month. UFC bantamweight Lauren Murphy (8-2) joins us for our inaugural post.  

June was a skimpy month for women’s fights in the bigger promotions, which is what we’ll be focusing on. We had two contenders: Tecia Torres (6-0) vs Angela Hill (2-1) at UFC 188, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (10-0) vs Jessica Penne (12-3) at UFC Berlin.

Lauren Murphy: Well, of course I have to pick Joanna Champion vs Jessica Penne. This fight was exciting, and while we were all sure that JJ would win, Penne had a legitimate shot at the title if she could get the fight to the ground. Unfortunately, to do that, one has to get past Joanna Champion’s amazing striking.

One of the things I really liked was watching Joanna counter. She always countered right away. If Penne was aggressive and tried to strike first, she paid for it. If she didn’t strike first, she paid for it. They would clinch, Jessica couldn’t get Joanna down, and then as soon as they separated, Joanna made her pay for it. Especially with a few particularly nice elbows and a head kick. So what’s Penne to do? Anything she did to Joanna, she paid for.

That’s something fighters learn with experience. It’s physically and mentally incredibly draining, and it’s so effective, and Joanna is so good at it.

It makes your opponent not want to do anything. Subconsciously, or sometimes consciously, they know that no matter what they try, it’s not going to work, and it’s going to hurt. badly.

I think next in line is Claudia Gadelha (12-1), and she may have what it takes to beat Joanna (their first fight was CLOSE), but there are other fun match-ups possible. I’d like to see how the fight between Valerie Letourneau (7-3) goes with Maryna Moroz (6-0); those girls are tough. Justine Kish (4-0) would also be a really fun matchup to see.


Melanie Gale: It’s so much fun to watch Joanna Champion fight. She’s so technical, so fast, so methodical, it’s just a joy. That’s one reason why her decisive title defense win over vet Jessica Penne makes this my fight of the month, but it’s only one reason. As I sat in my living watching her go after Penne, I thought to myself: this is the future of WMMA.

Not just Joanna Jedrzejczyk herself, but all those known and unknown nipping at her heels. That isn’t to slight Penne at all, or Lisa Ellis (15-10), Jessica Aguilar (19-4), or any other vet still giving it everything in the cage. It’s just that Jedrzejczyk’s title defense really brought home to me that WMMA has a real future in the UFC, and that Ronda Rousey (11-0) didn’t truly cement that future, but a six-time Muay Thai champion from Poland did.


Sydnie Jones: Actually, I’m going to go with Torres vs. Hill.

Just kidding. Joanna versus Jessica was probably exactly what most people anticipated and further established Jedrzejczyk as a fighter whose striking proficiency may outclass the most proficient grapplers in the strawweight division. Neither Carla Esparza’s (10-3) wrestling nor Penne’s Brazilian jiu jitsu posed any obstacle for Jedrzejczyk. Esparza managed one successful takedown out of an attempted 17; Penne managed none of an attempted 11. Both women are experienced grapplers; Esparza is a decorated wrestler and Penne has a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. They’re considered some of the strongest grapplers in the division, and Jedrzejczyk blitzed through both of them. It’s exciting to have a fighter who can make such quick work of a champion to take the belt, and then dominate a top-ranked contender.

In a fledgling division still finding its way, it’s great to have a dominant fighter emerge. Prodigies are rare in any sport, but when there are only two divisions for women in the UFC and with women’s MMA such a young sport, prodigies there are even fewer. So watching Jedrzejczyk pick apart Esparza and then do the same to Penne, living up to the growing hype around her ability, was satisfying. As Melanie said, we get to witness the beginning of women’s MMA as a professional sport taken seriously. Jedrzejczyk versus Penne was a significant milestone for that.

Even though she’s coming off a loss, I think Jedrzejczyk versus Joanne Calderwood (9-1) would be interesting. Calderwood is a good, precise striker, and I think with more aggression and a higher output, there might be some fun exchanges. And a rematch with Gadelha seems unavoidable and and fair. Hopefully with the anger Gadelha feels from thinking she was robbed in the first fight, we’d see a real fire motivating her in the rematch.

Who do you want to see Jedrzejczyk face next?

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Sydnie Jones