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Friday July 8th will be the second event from the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas for the UFC’s International Fight Week and the second time Joanna Jedrzejczyk (C) and Claudia Gadelha (#1) meet in the octagon. Joanna won the last fight via a close three round split decision. This event will be the culmination of TUF season 23, Team Joanna vs Team Claudia. Team Claudia has been dominating the season winning 7 out of the 8 quarterfinal matches as well as the coach’s challenge. The season has been particularly heated between the coaches with Joanna unleashing verbal taunts at Claudia and her coaches as well as taking a very hardline approach towards her own team. This is another classic striker versus grappler matchup.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-130) is the undefeated strawweight champion with an undefeated record of 11-0.  She is 28 years old, 5’6”, with a 65” reach. Born and raised in Poland, Joanna has traveled the world fine tuning her striking. She is a 5-time IFMA Muay Thai amateur world champion, 4-time IFMA Muay Thai European champion, and has been a professional fighter since 2005. She has a very technical “sprawl and brawl” style, with laser fast accurate punches. Joanna will need to keep it standing as much as possible to win this fight. I am interested how she manages her emotions this time around since she may feel more pressure as a result from trash talk and losing record from the TUF 23 show.

Claudia Gadelha (+110) is 13-1 with her only loss coming from Joanna. Seven of her wins came via first round finish. She is 27 years old, 5’4”, with a 63” reach. She trains out of Nova Uniao under famed coach André Pederneiras and alongside former champs Jose Aldo and Renan Barao. Her base is in BJJ, but has shown good proficiency with her striking. Claudia was able to control most of the fight against Joanna last time but seemed to have taken more damage. She will not have fought in about 11 months when she finally faces Joanna for the strawweight championship. Claudia has publicly stated that she thinks she won their last fight and looks to finish Joanna this time around. She is a strong compact grappler that will need to get Joanna away from the cage to effectively work her submission skills.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk has proven over and over that she is effective with her striking and anti-wrestling technique. She does an incredible job at keeping her base low, legs very wide, and utilizing the cage defensively. There is no secret about Joanna’s gameplan. You can count on Claudia and her team at Nova Uniao making the necessary adjustments to win this fight. The team has two fighters training for a championship bout this week, Jose Aldo will be facing Frankie Edgar the following day for the interim featherweight belt. Having such a high level of training and sparring partners makes a huge difference when fight time comes. Not to mention, I believe Claudia has gotten in to Joanna’s head a bit and has shown a more level headed approach through the TUF 23 season. Gadelha will look to keep Joanna in the center of the octagon and utilize her positional control away from the cage to setup the submission.

FIGHT PICKS – My money is on the live dog Claudia Gadelha (+110) who will win by submission and become the new women’s straw weight champion.

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