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UFC Fight Night: Joanna vs. Waterson results and post-fight analysis

Mookie Alexander recaps a highly entertaining UFC Tampa fight card, which featured terrific fights and impressive finishes.

Weight cut trouble? What weight cut trouble?

That pre-fight story seems like a distant memory after Joanna Jedrzejczyk thoroughly dispatched Michelle Waterson in the UFC Tampa main event, likely securing herself a title shot against current strawweight champion Weili Zhang. Jedrzejczyk was just better everywhere, and outside of a brief rear-naked choke attempt late in round three, Waterson was scarcely competitive. The former champion was outstanding as ever with her striking, piecing Waterson up with kicks and lightning fast combinations, and physically overpowering her in the clinch. To Waterson’s credit, she was never in danger of being finished and gave it a good effort to try and pull off a comeback, but it was obvious from the opening round that she was outgunned both physically and skill-wise.

Jedrzejczyk did have her right foot balloon up, so that’ll be something to monitor as far as when she’ll make her return. Outside of that, Joanna looked like “Joanna Champion.” Now she’ll presumably have the chance to once again become a champ, and I think that’s a fascinating stylistic matchup between her and Zhang. I’ve got no issue with her jumping over Tatiana Suarez, whom I believe isn’t ready for a title shot. Of the fighters ranked above Joanna at present, Jessica Andrade shouldn’t get an insta-rematch vs. Zhang, Rose Namajunas is out indefinitely, I already mentioned Suarez, and then Nina Ansaroff is planning to have a child. What other argument could you make against a Joanna title shot, especially when you consider she’s the only dominant champion in that division’s history?

More thoughts below:

Main Card

  • That one judge who somehow gave Waterson a round... I have questions.
  • Cub Swanson snapped a four-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision win over Kron Gracie that was contested almost entirely on the feet, yet it produced more back-and-forth action than I imagine many would’ve envisioned. Swanson took all three rounds but he did take his fair share of strikes from Kron in the last two rounds, it’s just that Cub was more technical (as expected) and dished out better damage. Those body shots in particular were absolutely lethal, yet Kron barely flinched. Gracie is no doubt tough, and he certainly fared a lot better than most Gracies when pressed into striking.
  • Niko Price just loves knocking people out from his back. Last year, it was the hammerfists vs. Randy Brown. This year, it’s a picture-perfect upkick that wiped out James Vick and spoiled his move up to welterweight. By the time the fight was over, Vick was slumped over and totally unconscious. Holy shit! Vick’s UFC run might be over after four losses, but Niko Price should stick around for a long time just for the sudden violence that comes out of all of his fights, win or lose!
  • Amanda Ribas improved to 2-0 in her UFC career with a dominant victory over strawweight prospect Mackenzie Dern, who’s just four months removed from giving birth to her first child. I don’t know how much the recent childbirth affected her preparation and performance, but take nothing away from Ribas’ thorough outstriking of Dern, along with shutting down her vaunted grappling. There’s a lot for Dern to learn through this defeat, but keep an eye on Ribas as someone who can make some noise in this division.
  • Matt Frevola survived a wicked flying knee from Luis Pena in round two, and was able to get a split decision win in a super entertaining contest. It really boils down to how you scored round one, and ultimately “Violent Bob Ross’” late charge in the opening frame wasn’t enough for him to get the W. A hell of a win for Frevola in the city where he graduated college.
  • You would think that Eryk Anders would’ve had his way with Gerald Meerschaert with the fight contested almost entirely on the feet. Well... it was a lot closer than expected, and despite Meerschaert rocking Anders late in the final round, the former Alabama linebacker eked out a split decision. “Ya Boi” gets a close decision to go his way.

Preliminary Card

  • After a slow start, light heavyweight prospect Ryan Spann turned up the heat on Devin Clark and closed out the prelims with a club-and-sub. Clark had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and got guillotined in round two.
  • Thomas Gifford’s corner (which includes his dad) and referee Andrew Glenn (who was pulled from the Vick vs. Price fight) all need to be taken to task for the inexcusably prolonged beating and eventual faceplant KO that poor Thomas suffered against Mike Davis. That was one of the more disgusting (in a bad way) finishes that I have seen in a UFC fight in a long time. It was over at the end of round one, it definitely was over after round two, yet Gifford’s corner trotted him out there to get plastered some more. The referee could’ve stopped it sooner and he didn’t. Gifford’s corner definitely could’ve thrown in the towel and didn’t. What justification was there for letting that fight continue all the way to its terrifying end? I’m steamed about that. You hope Gifford didn’t take career-altering damage because the people who are most responsible for his well-being were grossly negligent.
  • Alex Morono and Max Griffin put on a great fight, with Morono’s huge second round proving pivotal on his way to a thrilling unanimous decision. As impressive as Morono’s offensive onslaught was, Griffin’s toughness and chin was once again ridiculous. It’s a miracle in itself that he got back into the contest, but it was too little too late.
  • Tim Elliott shot for a takedown about midway through the opening round against Deiveson Figueiredo. Bad move. The Brazilian flyweight contender locked up an arm-in guillotine and had the former title challenger tapping within seconds. If we don’t get Henry Cejudo defending his flyweight belt next, then why not have an interim title between Figuiredo and Joseph Benavidez? It’d be an excellent scrap.
  • It’s well overdue for Marlon Vera to get a ranked bantamweight. He was on his way to beating Andre Ewell on the scorecards, but “Chito” wasn’t interested in the cliche of leaving it in the hands of the judges. His standing head-and-arm chokes in rounds one and two failed, his ground-and-pound after tripping Ewell to the mat in the final frame succeeded in getting the fight stopped. Five straight wins, all by stoppage, time for Vera to get a bigger matchup.
  • Miguel Baeza made the most of his UFC debut, chopping down Hector Aldana with low kicks before finishing with ground strikes. Those strikes weren’t particularly brutal, but Aldana wasn’t fighting back and the damage was already done through the calf kicks.
  • Well.. Marvin Vettori made Andrew Sanchez pay for his trash talk. The Italian middleweight dominate Sanchez in round 1 and Andrew was never really able to claw his way back into the fight. A shutout win on the scorecards for Vettori, who really was in control almost the entire way on the back of his striking.
  • JJ Aldrich kicked off the card with a well-earned unanimous decision over Lauren Mueller. She nearly got the TKO early in round three as she rocked Mueller with strikes, but at least she got the W anyway.