Valentina Shevchenko has weighed in with her prediction for the UFC 223 women’s strawweight title fight between Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
UFC 217, well before any action took place inside the octagon, stood as the UFC’s marquee event for the year 2017. On paper, it was easily one of the most attractive cards in the history of the sport, boasting three superb title-fights, including the long-awaited return of the legendary welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
We’ve seen it in the past. Events with stellar lineups that just fail to ignite when fights go ahead and to be honest, there was every chance that the card could have bombed but for those in attendance in Madison Square Garden and those watching at home, the payoff after such a hype-filled buildup was absolutely extraordinary.
Three title-fights that saw three champions finished by their challengers and though the bulk of the attention was fixated on the two top-billed offerings on the night – the aforementioned return of GSP to face Michael Bisping and Cody Garbrandt’s grudge match against TJ Dillashaw, it was the stunning upset win from Rose Namajunas that truly shook the world to its core.
Known as a diverse and creative striker but a more seasoned grappler, Namajunas was expected to do everything she could to get the fight to the ground when facing the muay-thai master Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Even the night’s commentary team made no attempt to hide from the fact that she went into that matchup completely outgunned on the feet. So when a deft left-hook dropped the Polish strap-holder in the very first round, the world of mixed martial arts collectively lost their minds.
It was the upset to end all upsets and now, with the rematch booked for UFC 223, it will be very interesting to see how each woman’s approach differs from their last fight. For Joanna, it did seem as though the considerable hype she attained going into that fight affected her mentally and though she will more-than-likely be the betting favourite when they run it back, an old foe has chimed in with her take on why we may well be set for a new era in the women’s strawweight.
Valentina Shevchenko is without a doubt one of the most skilled female fighters on the planet and funnily enough, holds three wins over Joanna from their days on the muay-thai circuit. Speaking to MMAFighting, Shevchenko outlined why exactly she feels as though Jedrzejczyk’s time at the very top is at an end.
“I do not think it will be a different result. Of course, it will be different because Joanna will prepare herself stronger, but at the same time, Rose will prepare stronger as well. I expect it to be a very hard fight, but I think the result will be the same.
“In every fight any fighter has, they learn from the experiences that they have. Joanna is a very good fighter and she is very strong and she showed that to everyone by being champion for a few years. This is Rose’s time now. I really think she will be a very good champion at strawweight for a long time.”
UFC 223 goes down on April 7 and features both the rematch between Namajunas and Jedrzejczyk and the eagerly anticipated lightweight clash between interim-champ Tony Ferguson and the unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena