Poland has become one of the next talent hotbeds for MMA, with a scene that's been in development for quite some time now, led by national mainstay promotion KSW. Surprisingly neither of the UFC's most recent signings have come through the KSW ranks, but they add to a growing stream of fighters making the jump from the European regional circuit. Lukasz Sajewski's signing was first reported by Polish MMA site, MMARocks.pl. He's set to face Leonardo Santos at the upcoming Fight Night show in Brasilia, Brazil. Also making her debut soon will be Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who will face Juliana Lima at UFC on Fox 12 in San Jose, California. Jedrzejczyk shared the news on Facebook.
Who is Lukasz Sajewski?
Training out of Mighty Bulls Team in Poland, alongside UFC lightweight Piotr Hallman and under the tutelage of longtime veteran Grzegorz Jakubowski. The 23-year old has put together a 13-0 undefeated record fighting on the polish regional scene, where he's collected solid wins over Kamil Gniadek and Marcin Held. Overall, his record is a solid mix of regional vets, rising prospects, and the kind of too-green fighters you'd expect. Exactly the kind of competition a young fighter should be facing early in his career, if not quite top of the food chain (apart from Held). Apart from a mid career string of two round decisions, Sajewski has been a strong finisher with 9 of his thirteen wins coming inside the distance.
What you should expect:
On his feet Sajewski is a solid if unexciting striker. His form and technique are basic, but good. He defends well at range, works behind a jab, throws decent combinations. He doesn't work in nearly enough volume and seems reluctant to put together more than two strikes at a time, and doesn't have much of a kicking game, but those are all small complaints for an MMA fighter with good footwork and defense while striking. His wrestling, when he can get to it, is a bit more strength than technique, but he is tenacious on takedowns. He tends to get stuck in the guard a bit and doesn't have the most active ground and pound. His takedown defense appears to be pretty solid however, which adds a nice wrinkle to his boxing heavy striking attack. It does look like Sajewski has improved his passing and ground and pound lately, and when he can get out of the guard he's a very aggressive submission grappler.
What this means for his debut:
Sajewski has a really tough test on his hands taking on Santos in Brazil. Santos has obviously been working on his striking a lot lately and has developed a nice range game. Coupled with his strong Jiu Jitsu, he's a formidable opponent with a lot of ways to win. But what he lacks is a wrestling and transition offense. Sajewski is in a bit of the same boat, as his takedowns are fairly strength based. I'd say that Santos, with his increased striking and quality grappling probably has the advantage, but I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being a close, ugly fight.
Who is Joanna Jedrzejczyk?
The 26-year old, Jedrzejczyk makes her way to the UFC with a 6-0 record competing largely at flyweight on the European regional scene. She trains out of Arrachion MMA alongside strong prospects Aslambek Saidov and Adrian Zielinski among many others. She's competed on a bit larger scene than Sajewski, with fights under the Fight Nights banner and Cage Warriors. Her recent win over Rosi Sexton was an eye opener for many, with Jedrzejczyk putting on a striking showcase. And with wins over Julia Berezikova and Karla Benitez, she's got an amazingly strong record only six fights into her pro career.
What you should expect:
Jedrzejczyk has a nicely technical striking game and a go for broke attitude to back it up. In some ways she's reminiscent of a more technical Leslie Smith in her high output, style. She throws her punches straight, her kicks are sharp and she works amazingly well in combination. She also appears to have the natural speed and athletic talent to carry that style well without putting herself in danger. If she has any weakness on her feet it's probably that her high output style can wear down her cardio in long fights and deteriorate her technique a bit, but that's more a nitpick at this early stage in her career. She's also shown a decent sprawl and takedown defense game, especially in a woman's division often punctuated by head and arm throws as takedowns. Against the very best of the division, that may be a big test for her to pass, but against most fighters she seems more than capable of staying upright.
What this means for her debut:
Lima has shown some decent flashes of takedown prowess, but to date, her striking is still so wild and unpolished that unless she's made real solid improvements, Jedrzejczyk is probably going to run over her. It'll be a solid test, but one I expect Jedrzejczyk's game is well honed to pass, and not a big step up from the competition she's already been facing.
To get us better acquainted, here's Sajewski's last bout:
And Jedrzejcyk's last bout: