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Digging In: UFC Women’s Strawweight Division


The Women’s Strawweight Division is often looked at as the younger sister of the Bantamweight Division. The Strawweights don’t get nearly as much promotional push as the Bantamweight division, and to this day, A Strawweight Fight has not headlined a UFC PPV. However, the division has gone through a revitalization recently. Former Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has recently been dethroned and the division now sits with “Thug” Rose Namajunas.

Champion: Rose Namajunas

Rose Namajunas’ ride to the top was quite incredible. She was a participant in the first ever Women’s Strawweight title fight against Carla Esparza where she was unable to capture the throne. She then proceeded to run through folks at 115 defeating the likes of Angela Hill, Paige VanZant, Tecia Torres, Karolina Kowalkiewicz (actually a loss but bullshit), and Michelle Waterson. At UFC 217, Namajunas finally got her shot and was able to dispatch Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk within one round via TKO. I remember watching the fight and thinking “I like Rose, but there’s no chance it happens” but then, “How the Fuck did she do that?”. Rose was able to defeat the best female striker in MMA by knocking her down twice and pummeling her on the ground. Rose, If she makes it through Jessica Andrade will stay the Champion of the Strawweight division for a while.

Contenders:

Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Joanna was basically unstoppable as champion. She defeated Carla Esparza with a swift TKO and was able to Jessica Penne, Valerie Letourneau, Claudia Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jessica Andrade with ease. Unfortunately, she then ran into the fists of “Thug” Rose Namajunas. Her loss to Rose seemed to mess with her mind a bit as she still has yet to accept her losses. She now has to sit and hope that Rose will lose for her to get another shot at UFC Gold because the UFC won’t book a third Rose Vs. Joanna Matchup. Joanna did recently get back on track by defeating top five contender Tecia Torres.

Jessica Andrade: Jessica Andrade has really made a home at Strawweight. Since she moved down in weight, she is 5-1 with her lone loss coming to Champion at the time Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Andrade smothers her opponents with consistent forward pressure much like Khabib Nurmagomedov does and she has the ability to throw with the best of them. Against Angela Hill, she was able to put on an exciting performance where she and Hill went toe to toe and swing for the fences, and I was thoroughly impressed with her tenacity and chin. Andrade has an opportunity to move to 6-1 at strawweight with a victory over Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 228

Karolina Kowalkiewicz: Amazing! Karolina Kowalkiewicz has a cute exterior but combats that in the octagon. She is a Fucking warrior and unlike Joanna Jedrzejczyk, she has a win over the current champion of the Strawweight division. Unfortunately, she is only 2-2 in her last four fights with her most impressive victory of those two coming against Felice Herrig.  She has a tough matchup in her next bout with Jessica Andrade where I can see Andrade’s style giving her problems.

Claudia Gadelha: The Gadelha Vs. Jedrzejczyk feud that came to a peak during the filming of the Ultimate Fighter Season 23 was fascinating and it rivaled Miesha Tate Vs. Ronda Rousey for the best female rivalry in the sport for a good while. Gadelha has made some training camp changes after she lost in her Title Shot Rematch to Joanna Jedrzejcyzk and when she defeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz it seemed to work out.  However, in her last two fights, Gadelha lost to Jessica Andrade and was accused of greasing her body during the fight by Carla Esparza. Gadelha is still a great contender in the 115-pound division despite her losses to Andrade and Jedrzejczyk.

Other Contenders:

Tecia Torres: Hailing from Fall River, Massachusetts (Shoutout Frank The Tank) Tecia Torres is a great Strawweight and I thoroughly believe that she will be in the UFC for a long time. She is 10-3 in her MMA Career with her only losses coming to stiff competition in Rose Namajunas, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Jessica Andrade. On a positive note, she was able to push aside other top contenders in Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill with ease. I think a fight with Randa Markos would be fitting for her next.

Carla Esparza: The First UFC Strawweight champion in history has been hot and cold since losing her title. With impressive wins over people like Cynthia Calvillo and Rose Namajunas and terrible losses to girls like Randa Markos and Claudia Gadelha, it’s tough for me to make the right prediction when Esparza is fighting. She is still very much in contention for the title and I believe that with a few more impressive wins she can get there.

Felice Herrig: Herrig has made a name for herself in the last few years where she was able to dispatch Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish and Cortney Casey. This was rather surprising for me because I thought that she was done when she lost to Paige VanZant and Paige became the UFC’s Posterchild. Felice Herrig has a fight upcoming with Michelle Waterson and I fully expect it to be a top fight in the division’s history.

Michelle Waterson: Michelle Waterson is one of the best Atomweight fighters in the world, however, the UFC doesn’t have an Atomweight Division so, therefore, she fights in the Strawweight division fighting girl’s much bigger than her. It’s rather impressive that she’s been able to win against big names such as Paige VanZant and Cortney Casey with such a big size disadvantage. Her next fight, as I stated previously is against Felice Herrig

Strawweight Prospects:

Tatiana Suarez: This girl might be able to defeat Rose Namajunas right now. Out of all female’s in the UFC, she has the best wrestling of anyone not named Sara McMann. She dominated her opponents in Viviane Pereira and Alexa Grasso and neither fight was very close. She next faces Carla Esparza at UFC 228

Cynthia Calvillo: Cynthia Calvillo came into the UFC with a bang by defeating Amanda Cooper and Pearl Gonzalez within a month of each other. Then she took a fight with Joanne Calderwood in Calderwood’s native Scotland and was able to outclass her. She then lost a close decision to Carla Esparza and is now on USADA Suspension for smoking weed.

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