Rivalries: Joanne Wood

By Brian Knapp Nov 18, 2021

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Joanne Wood’s climb back to contention begins anew.

The Syndicate MMA representative will meet Taila Santos in a pivotal showdown within the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s flyweight division, as they square off on the UFC Fight Night 198 main card this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Wood has alternated wins and losses in each of her past five appearances. The 34-year-old Scotswoman finds herself on the rebound following a split decision defeat to Lauren Murphy at UFC 263 on June 12.

As Wood approaches her three-round battle with the once-beaten Santos, a look at some of the rivalries that have helped shape her career to this point:

Valerie Letourneau


Wood disposed of the American Top Team export with a front kick to the body and follow-up punches in the third round of their historic UFC Fight Night 89 showcase on June 18, 2016 at TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Ontario. Letourneau wilted 2:51 into Round 3 of what was the first women’s flyweight pairing in Ultimate Fighting Championship history. Wood was downright ruthless. The soft-spoken Scotswoman floored Letourneau with a spinning backfist in the first round, executed a pair of takedowns in the second and finished the job in the third. There, Wood doubled over the Canadian with a front kick to the body and later slammed a foot into her face. Letourneau survived the blows, but after a second front kick to the midsection, she winced in pain, turned away and retreated. Wood pursued her to the fence, fired off a knee to the backside and closed it out with another spinning backfist to the face.

Jessica Andrade


The Parana Vale Tudo cornerstone submitted Wood with a guillotine choke in the first round of their UFC 203 women’s strawweight attraction on Sept. 10, 2016 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Wood conceded defeat 4:38 into Round 1, suffering just the second setback of her career. Andrade executed multiple takedowns, passed to side control and bullied the Scotswoman with her ground-and-pound. Wood tried to scramble to her feet but wandered into the guillotine and tapped to the choke after a brief struggle. Andrade outlanded “JoJo” by a 44-23 margin in total strikes and piled up more than three minutes of control time before scoring the stoppage.

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Katlyn Chookagian


The former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder broadened her horizons, as she took a unanimous decision from Wood in their UFC 238 women’s flyweight prelim on June 8, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago. All three cageside judges scored it for Chookagian: 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Wood leaned heavily on low kicks and did significant damage to the inside of her counterpart’s lead leg. Chookagian was undeterred, utilized occasional knees from the clinch and cut loose with two-, three- and four-punch combinations. Wood answered in spurts and even integrated a few takedowns, but “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 20 quarterfinalist’s efforts went unrewarded on the scorecards despite the fact that she outlanded Chookagian in significant strikes (112-82) and total strikes (141-108).

Jennifer Maia


When opportunity knocked, Maia answered. The former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder submitted Wood with an armbar in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 173 co-main event on Aug. 1, 2020 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. “JoJo” conceded defeat 4:29 into Round 1, as she tapped for the first time in nearly four years. Maia clipped the Syndicate MMA standout with crisp punching combinations, waded through a series of kicks and kept her composure after being taken down. The Brazilian framed the armbar, adjusted her grip during a desperate scramble and bent Wood’s arm beyond its bounds for the finish. The loss cost the Irvine, Scotland, native a shot at the UFC women’s flyweight championship.

Jessica Eye


Wood unleashed punches, elbows and knees from the clinch, as she took a unanimous decision from the Xtreme Couture rep in their UFC 257 women’s flyweight feature on Jan. 23, 2021 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. Eye engaged “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 20 quarterfinalist at close range, only to be met by a ferocious offensive onslaught from the Syndicate MMA-trained Scotswoman. Wood also did plenty of damage from a distance, connecting with penetrating jabs and sneaky right hooks, along with occasional front kicks to the face, body and legs. She provided Eye with a permanent reminder of her work in the waning moments of Round 3, where she opened a cut on her left brow with a well-placed knee strike. Advertisement