The main event of UFC Fight Night 161 between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Michelle Waterson could result in the winner moving to the top of the list for a women’s strawweight title fight – but that’s assuming the bout happens at all.
Rumors are swirling that Jedrzejczyk is having trouble making weight for the fight, leading to a back-and-forth between both camps about what might happen in Tampa, Florida this Saturday night.
Waterson Rejects Catchweight Bout
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani cited sources who said that Jedrzejczyk informed UFC officials over a week ago that she wouldn’t be able to get under the strawweight limit of 116 pounds. Those same sources then say that Waterson was asked if she would fight at catchweight, but she apparently declined that offer.
Those rumors inevitably led to questions being asked of Jedrzejczyk, who denied she is in danger of missing the weight limit.
“Let’s stay calm. I’m focused on my final weight cut,” Jedrzejczyk told reporters. “I should be 115 or 116 pounds. I will do my best to be on weight on Friday. I will be taking care of my body. My health and my life are the most important things. I will not do anything crazy.”
Waterson has her own theories about the situation. At open workouts on Wednesday, she told reporters that she thought this may have been a psychological ploy by the larger Jedrzejczyk in order to get Waterson to agree to a catchweight bout, even if it wasn’t actually necessary.
“I think that Joanna’s been really good in her career in playing that psychological warfare, and getting in her opponent’s head before the fight event starts,” Waterson told reporters. “We knew that she was going to be the bigger girl – Joanna’s just always been a bigger 115er – but we never in a million years thought that she wouldn’t make weight.”
Jedrzejczyk Not a Natural Strawweight
Whether there’s an element of psychology in the request or not, there’s no doubt that Jedrzejczyk has had more trouble cutting weight as she has gotten older. The 32-year-old came up into MMA as a flyweight, but has fought almost exclusively as a strawweight in the UFC, with the exception of a flyweight title fight last year, when she lost to Valentina Shevchenko by decision.
UFC Fight Night 161 Odds
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-380) vs. Michelle Waterson (+280)
- Cub Swanson (+132) vs. Kron Gracie (-162)
- Niko Price (-156) vs. James Vick (+128)
- Mackenzie Dern (-138) vs. Amanda Ribas (+114)
- Matt Frevola (+134) vs. Luis Pena (-164)
- Eryk Anders (-166) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (+136)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Presuming the fight goes on as planned, Jedrzejczyk will be seen as a deserved favorite. As the former UFC women’s strawweight champion, she has only ever lost to Rose Namajunas in the weight class – first by TKO to lose the title, then by decision last April in an attempt to win the belt back. Waterson has improved significantly in the last two years, and may be able to cause Jedrzejczyk some problems via her movement and karate-based striking, an unusual style that has caused fits for many opponents as of late.
Jedrzejczyk is not only the larger fighter, but also moves well for her size and is comfortable fighting at any range, meaning it’s hard to see an obvious path to victory for Waterson. At FanDuel Sportsbook, Jedrzejczyk is a -380 pick over Waterson (+280).