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Diggin’ Deep on UFC on FOX 30: Alvarez vs. Poirier 2 - FOX main card preview

Get the scoop on the early main card fights from UFC on FOX 30, featuring former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk beginning her road back to the title against the Tiny Tornado, Tecia Torres.

It feels awkward talking about Joanna Jedrzejczyk without her being involved in a title fight. Her last fight without a belt on the line was all the way back in 2014. Typically, a fighter doesn’t regain their title after a long reign, Jose Aldo being the only exception that comes to mind. But do we really believe Jedrzejczyk is done as an elite fighter? As of next month, she’ll be 31, hardly an age that indicates she’s left her best days in the past. Her road back to the title starts against Tecia Torres at UFC on FOX 30.

The main card begins on FOX at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT on Saturday.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-2) vs. Tecia Torres (10-2), Women’s Strawweight

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since Jedrzejczyk successfully defended her title against Jessica Andrade. The woman formerly known as Joanna Champion seems to believe a win here against Torres will get her back in the title picture, but most have a hard time believing that given there are so many fresh opportunities for Rose Namajunas to take on…including Torres should she emerge the victor. Believe it or not, Torres winning is a very real possibility.

As usual, Torres will be at a major size disadvantage. At 5’1” with a 60” reach, it’s hard to think of another high-level fighter on the roster should would be bigger than. Despite that, Torres continually finds a way to win the striking battle with her opponents. For anyone of her size to do that, they would have to be incredibly technical and the Tiny Tornado is no exception. From her footwork and angles to her form and distance management, there isn’t an area Torres is a slouch at. Her kicks are her primary weapon, but she is not a power threat at all. In fact, Torres isn’t much of a threat to finish a fight early, with only a solitary submission to count for stoppages. That isn’t in the UFC; that refers to her entire MMA career.

If there is anyone who could be more technical that Torres, it would be Jedrzejczyk. She also throws with a lot more power than Torres, making her inherently more dangerous. Throw in the fact that she’ll have a five-inch reach advantage over Torres and it seems highly unlikely Torres could pull off the upset. However, there is one big advantage Torres has over Jedrzejczyk and it’s the same thing that allowed Namajunas to take the belt off the long-reigning champion: athleticism. Though incredibly skilled, Jedrzejczyk has never been an elite athlete. Namajunas was able to explode into Jedrzejczyk with her punches and there’s no reason Torres can’t do the same. Granted, her smaller frame and reach will make it harder to accomplish than it was for Namajunas, but the native of Poland would be stupid to believe Torres is incapable of producing that result.

Neither Jedrzejczyk nor Torres look to go to the ground very often, so it’s a safe bet to discount who has the advantage there. Torres is getting a golden opportunity to jump the line if she can beat Jedrzejczyk and it’s possible Jedrzejczyk is no longer strong enough mentally to be the same fighter she was during her dominant reign over the division. However, she made some good adjustments in her rematch with Namajunas, making a strong case she deserved the victory. Jedrzejczyk should be just fine moving forward. Torres’ toughness will ensure she doesn’t get finished, but she’ll have a hard time matching Jedrzejczyk’s volume. Jedrzejczyk via decision

Alexander Hernandez (9-1) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-2), Lightweight

Hernandez is still very much a mystery despite a high-profile win over a recent top-ten lightweight in Beneil Dariush. We did witness enough to know he’s an uber-aggressive brickhouse with serious power in his fists. Beyond that, we’re still not sure how his skill set translates over against top flight competition. On the regional scene, he was known for ragdolling his opponents across the cage with slams and throws, not happy to settle with a powerful blast double to get them on their back. Bottom line: Hernandez is always looking for the finish, putting everything he has into his strikes, showing a deep enough gas tank for the strategy to avoid biting him in the ass in most contests should they go the distance.

OAM possesses a similar muscular build, though nobody would ever describe OAM as reckless. Then again, what would you expect out of a Tristar product? Since his entry into the UFC, OAM has developed a stiff jab with a steady supply of low kicks to supplement. However, it is the clinch where he has become an absolute monster. Originally, his judo background generally allowed him to flip his opponent to the mat once he got a solid grip on him. Now, his knees and elbows have developed some serious fight ending power to them. Just ask the traditionally durable Evan Dunham, whom OAM took out in just under a minute.

The consensus is in favor of OAM as Hernandez’s lone UFC appearance doesn’t reveal enough to fully trust him. Should he win, it won’t be as big of a shock as his win over Dariush. However, OAM has a better expectation of what the Texas product brings than what Dariush was aware of. Even though Hernandez’s full skill set has yet to be revealed, OAM is the safer pick. Aubin-Mercier via decision

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