UFC 274 Preview

Photo Courtesy of Zuffa LLC

UFC 274 is right around the corner, and the main card is must watch TV. The first fight of the night features MMA veteran and all around badass Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone facing off against another badass UFC veteran Joe Lauzon. The next fight of note is between former interim Champ Tony Ferguson and former Bellator Champ Michael Chandler. Both Ferguson and Chandler are both in need of a win.  The Card is then headlined by two title fights the first title fight is between Strawweights former champ Carla Esparza will face current champ Rose Namajunas. The final fight of the night will be between Justin Gaethje and Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira.

Donald Cowboy Cerrone has made a career out of taking short notice fights and fighting all comers. Some think that this will be Cerrone’s last fight in the UFC cage. Cerrone has had a couple of rough outings over the last three years most notably a Knockout loss to Conor McGregor. Joe Lauzon is on the back nine of his career; he got back in the win column in his last outing when he faced off against Jonathan Pearce winning by TKO. This was after a very rough patch in his career when he dropped three in a row to Stevie Ray, Clay Guida, and Chris Gruetzemacher. It will be Lauzon’s first bout in the UFC since before the Pandemic in 2019.

The next bout we’re really excited for is a matchup between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson. Chandler put on one of the best fights last year when he squared up against Justin Gaethje in the UFC Octagon. The pair traded shots for a long time with Gaethje coming up the victor in the end. Chandler is now set to face Tony Ferguson with the pair being on losing streaks both are hoping to get back to their winning ways. Ferguson in his last three outings has faced top tier competition but was unable to secure victories against Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, and Beneil Dariush. It should be interesting to see who comes out of this matchup with a win.

The final two bouts on this card are title fights. The first being a rematch between Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas. The pair faced off during The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned Finale for the inaugural UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship. Esparza walked away with the belt in their first meeting and will hope to reclaim the title from Namajunas. Namajunas is on her second stint as UFC Champion and hopes to make her second title defense this go around when she faces off against Esparza.

The final bout of UFC 274 is for The Lightweight title and will feature Justin Gaethje facing off with Submission Specialist Charles Oliveira. Gaethje is no stranger to big fights as he is the Former World Series of Fighting Lightweight Champion and is also a former UFC Interim Lightweight Champion he hopes to take Oliveiras belt. Oliveira will do everything in his power to stop this. The Brazilian grappler has been on an awesome ten fight winning streak two of those wins were title fights where he beat  Michael Chandler vacant UFC Lightweight Championship. Broke the UFC record for most finishes (17). And a great title defense against one of the best Lightweights in the world Dustin Poirier. This matchup between Gaethje and Oliveira is going to be must-see TV and we are excited to watch how this goes down.

You can catch UFC 274 on ESPN+ PPV on May 7th.

Update: Charles Oliveira missed weight and has been stripped of his UFC Lightweight title and will not be eligible to win the Lightweight title if he is victorious at UFC 274

Fighter Profile: Joanna Jędrzejczyk

Joanna Jędrzejczyk is without a doubt one of the scariest female fighters to have ever reigned over a UFC Women’s division. The self pronounced Boogie woman reigned supreme over the Strawweight division for four years beating an impressive list of names in multiple title defenses.  Jędrzejczyk is set to come back to the UFC Octagon for the first time since she fought Zhang Weili before the Pandemic and sustained one of the most gruesome head injuries mma fans have ever seen.

Jędrzejczyk was born August 18, 1987 in Olsztyn, Poland. She started her journey into martial arts when she was 16 after discovering  Muay Thai. She’d start taking Muay Thai classes with hopes to compete in the art. She’d do just that winning about 60 Muay Thai and Kickboxing matches over a ten year span. During this span Jędrzejczyk would win an impressive five world titles including the WKN World Championship, J Girls Championship, WBKF Championship, WKF European Championship, and the WMC Championship. She’d soon switch her focus to Mixed Martial Arts.

Jędrzejczyk would make her MMA debut against Sylwia Juśkiewicz in May of 2012 she’d win by Unanimous Decision. She’d then go face Lily Kazak in December of 2012 winning by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke.) Jędrzejczyk would then face Kate Jackson winning by TKO (doctor stoppage.) She’d face three more fighters in smaller promotions, she’d beat all of these fighters and would get the call to fight for the UFC.

 Jędrzejczyk would make her UFC debut against Juliana Lima winning by Unanimous Decision. From there she’d face Cláudia Gadelha winning in a controversial Split Decision. This would be a title eliminator and in her next bout she’d fight Carla Esparza for the UFC Women’s Strawweight title winning by TKO (Punches.) She’d make her first two successful title defenses against Jessica Penne and Valérie Létourneau. 

 Jędrzejczyk  would then go on to Coach The Ultimate Fighter against heated rival Cláudia Gadelha the two would face each other at the conclusion of the Season with Jędrzejczyk winning the second meeting. She defended the  belt successfully two more times against Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jéssica Andrade before losing the belt to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217. Jędrzejczyk would then face Namajunas again. She’d then face Tecia Torres winning by Unanimous Decision. She’d then move up to fight for the vacant Flyweight Title losing by Unanimous decision. She’d win her next fight against Michelle Waterson before losing a Split Decision to Zhang Weili at UFC 248 for the Strawweight title.

We hope Jędrzejczyk makes a successful return to the UFC Octagon sometime soon!

Fighter Profile: Carla Esparza

UFC Fight Night: Xiaonan v Esparza
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Former Invicta and UFC Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza has been out of the UFC Octagon since she beat Yan Xiaonan in May of 2021. Esparza is supposedly next in line for a shot at Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas. Who she won the Inaugural UFC Strawweight belt against all the way back in 2014. Fans definitely want to see this matchup again, even if Dana White doesn’t. Esparza has a five fight win streak and it’d be great to see her face Namajunas.

Esparza was born October 10, 1987 in Torrance, CA. She would attend Redondo Union High School wrestling for the varsity team during her junior year. She would win a few tournaments and would have the option to go to college for wrestling which she did. Esparza would attend Menlo College, a NAIA Division 1 School. She’d become an All American in Wrestling under the tutelage of coach and former two-time Olympian Lee Allen. Esparza in addition to wrestling while in college would also take up Brazillian Jiu Jitsu under Rener, Ryron, and Ralek Gracie at the Gracie Academy in Torrance. She is currently a Brown Belt. 

Cassie Trost was Esparza’s first MMA opponent in February of 2010. Esparza would win by TKO (Punches) in round one. Esparza would then face Karina Hallinan winning by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke.) She’d then face Lacey Sears she’d win by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) in round two. She’d then get the first loss of her career when she stepped into the cage against Megumi Fujii for Bellator. She’d then get two wins in a row against Nina Nunes (née Ansaroff) and Yadira Anzaldua. She’d then drop a fight to Jessica Aguilar. She’d win her next three fights before competing for the Invicta Strawweight belt against Bec Rawlings she’d win by Unanimous Decision.

Esparza would then get the call to be on the Ultimate Fighter 20 Women’s Strawweight tournament.Esparza would face Angela Hill, Tecia Torres, and Jessica Penne on the Ultimate fighter Earning her a spot in the show’s live finale. She’d face Rose Namajunas winning by Submission (rear-naked choke) and thus winning the show and the first UFC Strawweight belt. She’d lose the belt in her next fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Esparza would win three of her next four before dropping two in a row to Claudia Gadelha and Tatiana Suarez. She’s currently riding a five fight win streak including victories over Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez, and Yan Xiaonan.

We hope to see Esparza fight soon, and we hope it’s for the belt.

What’s Next For ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas?

Photo Courtesy of Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas made her return to the UFC octagon where she successfully defended her title against Weili Zhang. This was a great fight where Namajunas showed her abilities both on the feet and on the ground. Putting on a clinic for her first title defense this go around. But this brought many to question what is next for Namajunas? She has beaten most of the big names in her division and has faced and beaten all of the divisions’ former champions besides Carla Esparza.

Namajunas made her way to the UFC in 2014 when she fought for a title on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter. She was ranked 7th on the show and would earn her spot to the final fight of the season where she faced Carla Esparza. Namajunas has gone on to have an excellent career in the UFC where she’s had two stints as champion.

Namajunas really has two options I think most fans would love to see. The first one I think that makes sense is another rematch with former Strawweight Champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Rose has beaten Jędrzejczyk twice already but Jędrzejczyk is one of the best Strawweights of all time. I think it’d be great to see a third fight.  Jędrzejczyk has been removed from the rankings at the current moment, but said she was waiting to face the winner of the Strawweight Championship at UFC 268. Namajunas won so I think they could definitely make this fight.

The other option for Namajunas in my opinion would be a rematch against Carla Esparza. Esparza is coming off a victory to Yan Xiaonan at UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Garbrandt in May of 2021. Esparza is on a five fight win streak and is often talked about as one of the best Strawweights of all time. Esparza Won the inaugural UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship and also Won The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 in 2014.   Esparza lost the title to Jędrzejczyk in her next fight. This would be a great match between a current champion and a former champion. I think the fans would love to see it too. 

Dana White and the UFC matchmakers do a great job making fights. I think Namajunas with the excellent coaching of Trevor Wittman will definitely have a way longer reign than her first time as champion. She’s a truly inspirational fighter who believes they are the best then puts on dominant performances that prove she’s the best.  We will have to wait and see what is next!

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