The 5 best Strawweight title fights in UFC history
It’s been almost five years now since the UFC introduced the Strawweight division via the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter, and you’d find it hard to track down anyone who could claim it hasn’t been a massive success.
Not only have the 115lbers put on some incredibly exciting fights over those years, but the division has also created some of the UFC’s most recognisable stars, from Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Paige VanZant to Rose Namajunas and Michelle Waterson.
This weekend sees current champ Jessica Andrade defend her title against Weili Zhang in the main event of UFC Fight Night 157, in what will be the 11th Strawweight title fight – and if the fight turns out to be as good as the following 5, the fans in attendance will be in for a treat.
Here are the 5 best Strawweight title fights in UFC history.
#5: Carla Esparza vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk – UFC 185
The fans at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas were in for a shock when Carla Esparza defended her newly minted UFC Strawweight title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185. Esparza had won the inaugural title through a tournament on The Ultimate Fighter, finally defeating Rose Namajunas. The wrestler and submission expert hadn’t really been troubled in her 4 fights during the show, already held Invicta’s Strawweight title and hadn’t lost since mid-2011.
Her opponent, Polish kickboxer Joanna Jedrzejczyk, was far less heralded despite being 8-0, and was coming off a contentious decision over top contender Claudia Gadelha. With questions around Jedrzejczyk’s ground game, the fight seemed likely to be a pedestrian title defence for Esparza in a potentially long reign.
That couldn’t have been further from the truth, though. Esparza looked nervy coming into the fight and once it became clear that she couldn’t get Jedrzejczyk off her feet, she became a sitting duck for the challenger’s violent brand of high-volume striking. Jedrzejczyk tore into her for two rounds before the referee mercifully stopped proceedings in the second, with Esparza out on her feet.
It was a stunningly dominant showing for the Polish fighter and it ushered in a new era for the Strawweight division, even before a single successful title defence had been made.