Joanna Jedrzejczyk had to fight through adversity in the early stages of her fight with Claudia Gadelha tonight in the main event of TUF 23 Finale, but showed her championship mettle by coming on strong in the later rounds to retain her title by unanimous decision.
The main event woman’s strawweight title fight is underway!
Gadelha knocks Jedrzejczyk down almost immediately with a left hand, but she’s straight back up. Gadelha immediately into a takedown though and lands it.
Gadelha in half guard now. Nice work from JJ to stand back up, but Gadelha continues to apply pressure by pushing her up against the cage.
Jedrzejczyk reverses the position and presses the Brazilian up against the cage. Gadelha breaks free and lets her hands go.
JJ with a quick flurry of punches punctuated by an uppercut. Gadelha back into the clinch against the cage.
Half-way through the round and Gadelha lands her second takedown of the fight. From half guard she lands a couple of nice punches to the head.
Jedrzejczyk works over to the cage and stands, but still is caught in the clinch. Elbow for Jedrzejczyk and one from Gadelha.
They get back to striking range. Jedrzejczyk with a left and a right. She feels out with the jab and tries for a leg kick.
Leg kick for JJ and Gadelha looks to return fire. Front kick to the body for JJ. Right hand for the champion and a counter connects for Gadelha.
strong start grappling wise from Gadelha, but JJ was coming back into it in the later stages of the round with her quick hands at striking range.
Quick punches again from Jedrzejczyk to start the second, but Gadelha is then in on the takedown attempt. JJ stays upright, but is left pressed up against the cage. Quick flurry of punches from Gadelha, then back to the clinch.
Gadelha lands a nice takedown. JJ sitting up against the cage trying to stand, but Gadelha is keeping her down and landing punches to the head.
Punch from JJ and a hard punch in return from the challenger. Finally JJ stands, but it’s tough for her to deal with this constant grappling pressure from the Brazilian.
Gadelha trying to bring JJ back down via a trip. JJ on one leg, but staying upright for now. Half the round gone. JJ with an elbow. Not much offense from Gadelha here, but plenty of control.
JJ with a wide stance as she continues to defend the takedown. FInally Gadelha is able to get her down, but it’s a botched attempt and the champion lands on top. However, Gadelha scrambles and ends up in a dominant position again.
JJ stands, with Gadelha continuing to grind her up against the cage. JJ needs to get to striking range, but Gadelha is having none of it. This is her fight so far.
Finally JJ gets free, but there’s only 10 seconds of the round remaining. She marches forward with push kicks, then Gadelha is back into the safety of the clinch to end the round.
JJ pumps out the jab. Nice right hand down the pipe fo the champion. Couple of punches from JJ, but a solid counter connects for Gadelha.
Another nice punch from the challenger, then lands her latest takedown. Jedrzejczyk back up quickly, but up against the cage she’s thrown to the mat again.
JJ doing a good job of standing each time, but she just can’t get Gadelha off of her in this clinch.
Finally Jedrzejczyk gets the separation she’s looking for and begins to land some strikes. She lands to the body. Now a kick and then a punch upstairs.
A kick to the leg for JJ. Another leg kick, but then eats a right hand in return. Jab and a straight right for the champion. She’s still got fast hands here despite the gruelling grappling of the first couple of rounds.
Another good one-two for JJ, but then Gadelha bursts forward and land yet another takedown. JJ able to scoot out and gets a dominant position. She lands a few punches and then walks away and motions for her rival to stand.
Gadelha getting up very slowly here, clearly tiring. JJ starting to land with strikes, but then Gadelha lands a punch that buckles the champion’s legs just for a moment.
Good recovery from JJ and she presses Gadelha up against the cage and lands some vicious elbows. Gadelha returns with one of her own. JJ the aggressor now though as the round comes to an end, and she needs to carry that momentum into the championship rounds if she wants to have a chance of retaining her title.
The champion definitely lighter on her feet to start the fourth. She starts to piece together some nice combos and looks to have more confidence now.
JJ with a leg kick and then a punch to the head. Now a push kick. Leg kick, then a jab. Not much coming back from Gadelha, but surely a takedown attempt is not far away.
Good jab from JJ. Solid leg kick. Left hook. JJ varying up her attacks nicely, but the jab is at the heart of it all at the moment.
leg kick and then a left hook. Gadelha with punches that come up short. Gadelha into the clinch and lands an elbow, but JJ returns fire.
Back to striking range. JJ lands to the body and head. Now a kick again. Good one-two. Two minutes of teh round to go. Body punch. Left hook. Kick. It’s remarkable how much Gadelha has slowed down in the last six or seven minutes.
Snapping jab from JJ. Overhand right from Gadelha. Hard jab from the champion. Uppercut. Right hand. She attempts a head kick, but it doesn’t work out.
Gadelha tries to clinch, but JJ is able to easily shove her away at this stage in the fight. That early grappling from the challenger appears to have completely worn her out now that we are in teh championship rounds.
Constant striking pressure from JJ to end the round and Gadelha’s bleeding more heavily from her nose now. The fight’s completely turned around now, and the final round will be the decider here.
JJ looks for a glove tap, but Gadelha wants no part of it at first, but does respond eventually. Gadelha comes forward with a punch, but eats a nice counter combo.
Gadelha trying to apply some forward pressure, but JJ is comfortable punching off the back foot. She lands a leg kick. Then a one-two.
Gadelha summons up the strength for a takedown. She doesn’t land it, but does get JJ up against the cage. JJ with a wide stance as she tries hard to keep this fight upright.
Two minutes of the round down and JJ manages to get away and back to her favored striking range. Head kick attempt from her. Right hand lands for Gadelha.
One-two for JJ. She snaps out with the jab. Push kick upstairs. Then a nice right hand. Left lands for the challenger. Then again.
Gadelha into the takedown again, but this time Jedrzejczyk reverses and presses her up against the cage. JJ bundles her to the mat and lands a few ground and pound elbows.
She motions Gadelha to stand back up. JJ lands a crisp jab. Nice jab for JJ and a good right hand for Gadelha. JJ connects with a right and that jab again.
Gadelha with a body punch. Good jab for JJ, then a very hard right. They clinch and JJ lands an uppercut as Gadelha tries to march her over to the cage. Good elbow for JJ as they reach the cage. And that’s it, the fight is over and we’re headed to the judges to decide a winner.
This was really a fight of two halves, with Gadelha being the dominant force in the first couple of rounds with her grappling, but the champion’s cardio and superior striking came to the fore later in the fight, and that’s enough to ensure that Jedrzejczyk comes away with a unanimous decision victory (48-46 x2, 48-45).
This was a huge win for Jedrzejczyk as Gadelha is undoubtedly the second best fighter in the division and has the skills to really push her to the limit in a way that others in the division might struggle to replicate.
Having overcome this major hurdle, there’s every chance that Jedrzejczyk will now be the champion for a long time to come.