Joanna Jedrzejczyk at her best is still a sight to behold.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight titleholder carved up Michelle Waterson across five rounds, staked her claim as a potential No. 1 contender at 115 pounds and cruised to a unanimous decision in the UFC Fight Night 161 main event on Saturday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Jedrzejczyk swept the scorecards with 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 marks from the judges.
Waterson had the will but not the wherewithal to spring the upset. According to preliminary data, Jedrzejczyk outperformed her by eye-popping margins in the total strike (226-71) and significant strike (180-58) categories, and in both instances, the American Top Team superstar connected with more strikes than Waterson attempted. Calculated and efficient, she landed at least 30 significant strikes in all five rounds.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Jedrzejczyk vs. Waterson,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Weili Zhang: While Jedrzejczyk’s aura of invincibility was shattered in losses to Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko, she remains a formidable obstacle for anyone in the strawweight and flyweight divisions. The 32-year-old Polish muay Thai machine has compiled a 10-3 record under the UFC banner and possesses the kind of track record, charisma and name recognition the promotion covets in its contenders. With Namajunas’ status uncertain, Jedrzejczyk appears to have a clear path to another crack at the women’s strawweight crown. Zhang captured the 115-pound championship with a 42-second technical knockout of Jessica Andrade at UFC Fight Night 157 in August.
Cub Swanson vs. Andre Fili: Perhaps reports of Swanson’s were premature. The venerable featherweight mainstay closed the book on a career-worst four-fight losing streak and recorded his first win since April 22, 2017, as he took a unanimous decision from Kron Gracie in the three-round co-headliner. Swanson steered clear of the Brazilian’s venomous ground game, engaged him on the feet and picked him apart with clean punches for a majority of their 15-minute encounter. While the 35-year-old has piled up the miles across a career that covers more than 15 years, he can still wow crowds when matched properly. Fili has not competed since July 13, when he knocked out Sheymon Moraes at UFC Fight Night 155.
Niko Price vs. Belal Muhammad: There are no safe spaces with Price in the cage. The dynamic and offensively gifted Futures MMA representative wiped out James Vick with an upkick -- it was not the first knockout he has authored off his back since joining the UFC roster -- in the first round of their welterweight showcase and bounced back from his July 27 defeat to Geoff Neal. Price has his flaws and may never sniff the top of the 170-pound weight class, but he provides a degree of certainty in terms of entertaining the masses. Muhammad last fought at UFC 242, where he submitted Takashi Sato with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their Sept. 7 confrontation.
Amanda Ribas vs. Randa Markos-Ashley Yoder winner: Ribas saw past the hype surrounding 2015 Abu Dhabi Combat Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Mackenzie Dern, held her feet to the fire and laid claim to a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. She denied all six of Dern’s attempted takedowns and nearly quadrupled her output in the significant strikes landed department, drawing 30-27 nods from all three cageside judges. Now 8-1 and riding a three-fight winning streak, the exuberant 26-year-old Ribas could move quickly in the top-heavy women’s strawweight division. Markos and Yoder will face one another at UFC Fight Night 162 on Oct. 26 in Singapore.
Deiveson Figueiredo: vs. Sergio Pettis: The often-overlooked Figueiredo continued to distance himself from a March 23 defeat to Jussier Formiga -- it is the only blemish on his otherwise pristine resume -- by submitting Tim Elliott with a first-round guillotine choke in their undercard pairing at 125 pounds. The win, his first by submission in nearly three years, improved the Brazilian to 17-1 overall and 6-1 in the UFC while putting him in position for another high-profile opportunity in the not-too-distant future. Pettis last appeared at UFC Fight Night 159 in September, when he was awarded a unanimous decision over Tyson Nam.