MELBOURNE, Australia -- Joanna Jedrzejczyk strengthened her status as the No. 1 strawweight in the world, defending her UFC title for the second time in dominant fashion.
Jedrzejczyk (11-0) peppered title challenger Valerie Letourneau with leg kicks and jabs en route to a five-round unanimous decision. The judges scored the bout 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46 for Jedrzejczyk. The 115-pound title fight co-headlined UFC 193 on Sunday from inside Etihad Stadium.
A more than 20-to-1 betting favorite, Jedrzejczyk, 28, failed to record a finish as many expected, but she nevertheless dominated Letourneau (8-4) on the feet, outlanding her in total strikes 250 to 127, according to Fightmetric. Jedrzejczyk hurt Letourneau at several points during the fight, including in the first round, when she landed a front head kick to the chin that had the challenger visibly stunned.
"I said Valerie was going to be a tough opponent," Jedrzejczyk said. "You're not going to always win easy, you know? I always want to fight the best and Valerie deserved the opportunity completely. I expected a long fight, five rounds."
Letourneau, who fights out of American Top Team, got off to a great start, catching an early Jedrzejczyk leg kick and turning it into a takedown. She controlled Jedrzejczyk on the floor for a couple minutes and landed a few short elbows out of half-guard.
Jedrzejczyk eventually worked back to her feet, though, and that would prove the only time Letourneau would take her down. Standing, it was Jedrzejczyk's leg kicks that set the tone. Letourneau was helpless to defend them, and she began limping slightly by the third round. In the second round, a mouse started to form under her right eye from Jedrzejczyk's jab. Her eye was nearly swollen shut by the end of the fight.
"To be honest, nothing really surprised me," Letourneau said. "She did exactly what I thought she was going to do. I'm just -- I didn't respond as good as I wanted to."
The only defense Letourneau really offered to the kicks was attempting to catch them and take Jedrzejczyk down, but as her mobility decreased, the drive in her takedowns did as well. She continued to come forward and landed good counter right hands throughout the bout, but she inevitably walked into Jedrzejczyk's jab in doing so. She did cause Jedrzejczyk's mouth to bleed in the fifth round, but the fight was well out of reach at that point.
Jedrzejczyk's next title defense is likely to be a rematch against Brazilian contender Claudia Gadelha (13-1). Gadelha, who trains out of Nova Uniao in Rio de Janeiro, probably would have fought Jedrzejczyk at UFC 193 had she not been recovering from a hand injury. The two fought in December, with Jedrzejczyk taking a close split decision. Letourneau suffered her first loss since August 2015.