Valerie Letourneau will be looking to make the most of an unexpected title opportunity this weekend at UFC 193 when she looks to derail the perfect record of women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Their 115-pound title affair will serve as the co-main event in Melbourne, Australia and looms as a potentially violent striking battle.
Letourneau has reeled off three straight wins since joining the UFC and is coming off an impressive decision victory over Maryna Moroz. Moroz came into that Fight Night 74 clash with plenty of hype because of her unbeaten 6-0 record that included six finishes. However, Moroz was dropped early, and bested by the gritty Canadian in Saskatoon. The No. 8-ranked Letourneau got the call to square off against Jedrzejczyk after top-contender Claudia Gadelha sustained a hand injury in her UFC 190 victory over Jessica Aguilar.
While “Trouble” has compiled an 8-3 career mark, Letourneau is one of those competitors who is actually a better fighter than her record would indicate. She’s been tested against top-flight competition having sustained defeats against top bantamweight contenders Alexis Davis and Sarah Kaufman, and the No. 1-ranked Gadelha. Letourneau dropped a split-decision to the talented Brazilian in a 2012 catchweight bout that was contested at 130-pounds.
The American Top Team product made the decision to drop down to the 115-pound ranks after a decision win over Elizabeth Phillips in her Octagon debut. Letourneau followed up with victories over Jessica Rakoczy and Moroz in improving her UFC record to 3-0. She’s riding a four-fight win streak and enters the most difficult test of her career with supreme confidence. Letourneau is noted for her striking skills and tremendous toughness.
Letourneau will be the bigger woman this weekend but it’ll be interesting to see if the tough weight-cut will have a negative impact. While she’s only been stopped once in her career, her face has shown a tendency to get busted up during the course of a fight. That could prove detrimental in facing such a fearsome striker in Jedrzejczyk. Letourneau is a massive underdog heading into the contest, but she appears unfazed by the daunting task ahead of her.
There’s no doubt that the champion is getting plenty of praise in advance of the most high-profile fight of her career. Putting Jedrzejczyk on the same card with women’s bantamweight superstar Ronda Rousey will get her the massive exposure that she deserves. Jedrzejczyk has evolved into an absolute destroyer with her superior Muay Thai skills and diversified offensive attack. She captured the title in impressive fashion by blasting out Carla Esparza at UFC 185 and made a successful first title defense against Jessica Penne in what was a gory affair at Fight Night 69 in Berlin.
Jedrzejczyk is unbeaten in 10 fights and has produced five finishes along the way. She’s a master of mind games, although it doesn’t appear as though Letourneau is intimidated in any way. The champion likes to keep the fight standing and has showcased an excellent takedown defense. The Polish standout is 4-0 competing under the UFC banner with her toughest test having been a hard-fought battle with Gadelha at UFC on FOX 13. Jedrzejczyk got the split-decision nod in a fight that could’ve gone either way.
While the praise of Jedrzejczyk has been somewhat over-the-top during the promotion of this fight, it’s certainly understandable. She’s on the cusp of superstardom and this matchup with Letourneau is seen by most as an opportunity for the 28-year-old titlist to showcase her immense skills. She’s a massive favourite to retain her belt.
While Letourneau is a massive underdog this weekend, you can bank that the gritty veteran will go down swinging. Letourneau’s toughness will definitely be put to the test against the talented champion, and she’s never been one to back down from a good fight.