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Joanna Jedrzejczyk turned away Michelle Waterson with a vintage performance.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight titleholder outstruck Waterson across five largely one-sided rounds and captured a unanimous decision in the UFC Fight Night 161 headliner on Saturday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Scores were 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46, all for Jedrzejczyk (16-3, 10-3 UFC), as she took another step toward reclaiming the 115-pound championship.
Waterson (17-7, 5-3 UFC), who entered the cage on a three-fight winning streak, was game but lacked the weaponry necessary to deal with the American Top Team star. Jedrzejczyk tore into her with a consistent stream of leg kicks, flexed her superiority in the standup exchanges with crisp combinations and mauled the Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay in the clinch, where she uncorked knees to the body and short elbows to the head.
Jedrzejczyk had two brushes with peril and weathered them both, as Waterson climbed to her back, set her hooks and hunted rear-naked chokes in the third and fifth rounds. The Polish muay Thai stylist remained calm under duress, worked to free herself and eventually moved to more manageable positions.
Rejuvenated Swanson Outlasts Gracie
Cub Swanson stopped his downward spiral and registered his first win since April 2017, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over 2013 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Kron Gracie in the three-round featherweight co-main event. All three cageside judges arrived at the same verdict: 30-27 for Swanson (26-11, 11-7 UFC).
The brutality was off the charts. Gracie (5-1, 1-1 UFC) ate repeated blows to the head and body but kept moving forward, showing no regard for his well-being as a majority of his attempts to initiate a ground battle failed. While he may have been outmatched in terms of skill in the standup exchanges, the Brazilian’s toughness, grit and unshakeable will kept him competitive in all three rounds and made sure Swanson would not leave the cage unscathed. Gracie wrapped the Californian in full guard with 40 seconds remaining in the fight but failed to capitalize on the brief window of opportunity.
The victory closed the book on Swanson’s career-worst four-fight losing streak.
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Price Upkick KOs Reeling Vick
Futures MMA standout Niko Price knocked out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 alum James Vick with an upkick in the first round of their welterweight feature. Vick (13-5, 9-5 UFC) bit the dust 1:44 into Round 1, as he suffered his fourth consecutive defeat and now faces real questions about his future moving forward.
Price (14-3, 6-3 UFC) tripped the Lloyd Irvin protégé to the mat and applied his ground-and-pound, but he seemed to squander his advantage once the two men returned to their feet. Vick powered into top position, dropped some punches and appeared to be on his way to turning the tide in his favor. However, Price slammed his heel into the Texan’s jaw and knocked him unconscious for a shocking finish.
It was the 10th first-round stoppage of Price’s career.
Ribas Spoils Dern Return
A consistent jab, airtight takedown defense and sublime lateral movement spurred former Jungle Fight champion Amada Ribas to a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten 2015 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Mackenzie Dern in a featured women’s strawweight clash. Ribas (8-1, 2-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks from all three judges.
In her first appearance since May 2018, Dern (7-1, 2-1 UFC) was woefully inept on the feet and too often was left swinging at air. Ribas -- who holds the rank of black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu -- scored with a throw in the first round, utilized an effective sprawl and peppered her counterpart with punches from the outside.
Ribas, 26, has rattled off three straight wins.
Resilient Frevola Upends Pena
Early takedowns, a stout chin and a late surge carried University of Tampa graduate Matt Frevola to a split decision over the American Kickboxing Academy’s Luis Pena in a three-round lightweight showcase. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Frevola (8-1-1, 2-1-1 UFC).
Pena (7-2, 3-2 UFC) was responsible for the most impactful moment of the fight, as he connected with a devastating flying knee in the second round. Frevola -- who was the aggressor at the start of the fight and delivered a pair of slams on “Violent Bob Ross” inside the first five minutes -- managed to withstand the knee and the attack that followed, though he retreated to his corner with damage to both eyes. Pena lost his way in Round 3, where his opponent picked up the pace, fired off overhand rights with conviction and curried enough favor with the judges to exit the Octagon with the victory.
The loss snapped Pena’s modest two-fight winning streak.
Anders Escapes Crafty Meerschaert
Former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Eryk Anders nailed down his second straight win with a contentious split decision over Gerald Meerschaert in a three-round middleweight feature. All three cageside judges struck 29-28 scorecards, two of them in Anders’ favor.
Anders (13-4, 5-4 UFC) raced out to a strong start and had the Roufusport representative reeling late in the first round, as he exploited his noticeable advantage in the power department. However, he appeared to fade as the fight continued. Meerschaert (30-12, 5-4 UFC) answered single shots with two-, three- and four-punch volleys of his own and did real damage with a pair of body kicks late in the middle stanza. The two middleweights traded in the early stages of Round 3 and fought to a virtual standstill -- until Meerschaert set the former University of Alabama linebacker on unsteady legs with a counter left hook. Ultimately, his efforts fell short.
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