The co-main event at UFC 185 is a five-round title fight between UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Esparza is a -165 favorite (bet $165 to win $100) while Jedrzejczyk is a +145 underdog (bet $100 to win $145). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Esparza at -185 and Jedrzejczyk at +145, and there has been two-way action on this fight with a slight lean towards the champ Esparza. It’s a tough fight to call for sure, but I lean towards the underdog Jedrzejczyk to win the title. Here’s why. Esparza (10-2) is the UFC women’s strawweight champion. The 27-year-old American is 1-0 in the UFC with a submission win over Rose Namajunas to win the The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 Finale. Prior to the win in the finale, Esparza racked up notable wins over Angela Hill, Tecia Torres, and Jessica Penne on the show. Prior to her time on TUF, Esparza was the Invicta FC women’s strawweight champion and has been consistently ranked at the top of the division for a long time. A wrestling standout, Esparza made her MMA debut five years ago and has never looked back, losing only to top-ranked Jessica Aguilar and Megumi Fujii in her career to date. Since her loss to Aguilar in 2011, Esparza is 5-0 including wins over Bec Rawlings and Felice Herrig. Esparza’s wrestling has been dominant at 115lbs, and she looked unstoppable in the TUF house. She’s shown time and time again that the majority of the other women in the division just haven’t caught up to her abilities in the grappling department yet, and it will take a fighter who can stop her takedowns to beat her, because while she does have decent striking it’s nothing special. And that makes her opponent at UFC 185, Jedrzejczyk, a very interesting matchup considering she’s the best striker in the entire division. Jedrzejczyk (8-0) is the No. 1 contender in the UFC women’s strawweight division. The 27-year-old native of Poland is 2-0 in the UFC with decision wins over Claudia Gadelha and Julianna Lima. She also has a notable knockout win over Rosi Sexton from her tint in Cage Warriors. Jedrzejczyk was a multi-time European muay Thai champion and has competed in over 60 matches. She only has eight years of MMA experience, but don’t let that fool you because she absolutely has combat sports experience. Since coming to MMA, Jedrzejczyk has exhibited her striking in dominant fashion for the most part, with a brutal knockout win of Sexton the highlight of her career to date. For 115lbs Jedrzejczyk certainly packs a punch, and her knocking down Gadelha in their fight proves she has knockout power for her weight class. She also has shown great takedown defence for the most part in her career, which makes her a very dangerous out for anyone in the division. In this fight with Esparza, Jedrzejczyk has to keep the fight standing. She has to stop the takedowns of Esparza and keep the fight on the feet, because if she does she will be at a very clear advantage, and if she takes advantage of her edge in the fight she can become the new champion. I’ve been high on Esparza for a long time. I picked her to win TUF and I picked her to win the title at the finale, but I’m going to pick against her here and go with the dog Jedrzejczyk to become the new champion. I believe her takedown defence is extremely solid and although Esparza has great wrestling, I think Jedrzejczyk is going to be able to keep this fight on the feet for the most part and on the feet she’s a far better striker. Her muay Thai game is the best in the division and she’s one of the few 115lbers with serious knockout power. I think as long as she doesn’t get pinned on the ground she’ll be at an advantage as long as this fight stays standing. It’s hard to bet against the champ Esparza, but I do see some value in the dog Jedrzejczyk, and while it’s not a fight I’m going to go crazy on, I do see value in the Polish fighter for a small underdog value play in what should be a very good title fight.
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