MMA Ratings Podcast

April 4, 2020

Fight Fixin' - Post-Coronavirus Edition: UFC Women's Strawweight Division

By Adam Martin

The UFC, like every other sports entity in the world, is currently in limbo while humankind waits out the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus has destroyed the global economy and has also led to the cancellation of at least three and possibly more UFC cards. With MMA currently in a hiatus, we thought it would be a good time to look through each division and match-make future bouts for when the sport returns. In this edition of Fight Fixin', we take a look at the UFC women's strawweight division. Note: Some fighters currently have fights booked, but we will ignore those matchups for this series.

Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2

One of the greatest fights in MMA history took place last month at UFC 248 as Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk slugged it out for five rounds in an instant classic. Zhang may have won the fight via razor-thin split decision but both women saw their stocks raised significantly after putting one of the best fights we've ever see. There are other contenders at 115 lbs, but I think Jedrzejczyk proved in the first fight that she's worthy of a rematch. She was one round away from winning back her belt and she proved she can hang with Zhang more than anyone else has. The UFC should capitalize on both women being at the height of their careers and book the rematch between them next.

Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas 2

The one matchup on this list that is currently booked is a rematch between Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas. This fight is still scheduled to happen at UFC 249, but the odds of that event happening are dwindling by the day due to the coronavirus pandemic. Whenever the UFC schedule does resume, though, I still like this rematch and it serves as the perfect #1 contender bout at 115 lbs. These two met last summer at UFC 237 with Andrade scoring an upset over Namajunas to win the title. Andrade dropped it to Zhang in her next fight, but she is still an elite fighter, and Namajunas is still elite too. With both women coming off losses in title fights, it's the perfect time for a rematch to determine which one should get a crack at getting back her gold.

Tatiana Suarez vs. Claudia Gadelha

If she could stay healthy there's no question Tatiana Suarez would be fighting for the belt right now. The former Ultimate Fighter winner is undefeated and has been dominant in the UFC so far, but a neck injury is keeping her on the sidelines. It's been nearly a year since her last win, over Nina Ansaroff at UFC 238, and she needs another win at this point to keep pace with the other contenders. Just below Suarez in the rankings is Claudia Gadelha and I think this would be a really good matchup between a future title contender and a former title contender. Gadelha is essentially a gatekeeper at this point in her career, but she's still extremely durable and hard to finish. If Suarez can lay a beating on Gadelha like she has to nearly all of her other opponents, then we will know Suarez should get a title shot.

Michelle Waterson vs. Amanda Ribas

I'm a big fan of veteran vs. prospect matchups, and one I'd like to see would feature Michelle Waterson against Amanda Ribas. Waterson hasn't been able to win the big one in the UFC so far, but she's still a top-10-ranked fighter in the division. Ribas just broke into the Top 15 with her win over Randa Markos, and the next logical step up would be a fight against Waterson. Both women are very marketable, and both are exciting to watch in the cage, leading to the perfect storm for a fight.

Carla Esparza vs. Yan Xiaonan

In another veteran vs. prospect matchup, I'd book Carla Esparza against Yan Xiaonan. Esparza is a former champion, but at this point in her career, she is being used as a gatekeeper by the UFC. Xiaonan, meanwhile, is undefeated in the promotion, and has looked incredible so far. Esparza is the next logical step up in competition. If Xiaonan can smash Esparza, we'll know she's ready for the big time. And for Esparza, beating Xiaonan would prove that she's still one of the best in the world at 115 lbs.

What do you think of the above matchups in the UFC women's strawweight division? Comment under this article, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMAdamMartin.


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