Joanna Jedrzejczyk Wants To Be Known As ‘Joanna Champion’ Again
Joanna Jedrzejczyk has the chance to reclaim the UFC strawweight title this weekend at UFC 248, when she challenges Zhang Weili in the co-main event.
Speaking to MMA Fighting ahead of UFC 248, Jedrzejcyzk opened up on how much it means to her, to win back her title.
“Since I lost the belt, I became even more obsessed than when I was champion. With the belt, physically having the belt or not, you can act like the champ. You can be the champ. I made it to the elite. Not once but six times. I miss it.”
After beating Carla Esparza at UFC 185 to win the women’s 115lbs title, Jedrzejcyzk went on to defend the title five times. Eventually losing the belt to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217. Since then ‘JJ’ has lost to Namajunas again whilst challenging for the strawweight title, and lost to Valentina Shevchenko whilst fighting for the flyweight title. The 32 year old has also notched up wins against Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson in that time.
“I’m looking forward. It’s going to be my 14th UFC fight and 10th UFC fight for the belt . It means a lot. It’s big. There’s not so many people with a legacy like this, with so many experiences. I keep it fresh because I want to fight for my dreams.”
Namajunas went on to lose the title to Jessica Andrade at UFC 237, who then proceeded to lose it to Zhang at UFC Shenzhen. But while many are singing the praises of China’s first ever UFC champion, Jedrzejcyzk, while acknowledging that she is a dangerous opponent, believes that she didn’t beat the best Jessica Andrade to win the title.
“Her ranking, her record is so good, 20-1, but records and rankings don’t fight. She’s the champion. She’s right at the top and she’s the best strawweight in the world right now. She’s my next big challenge and I’m very happy to face the best. She’s very dangerous. She surprised the world. She did well in the fight with Jessica Andrade.
“I think that Jessica Andrade was not in her best shape when she faced Weili Zhang. What I heard from her camp, that they had so many problems in China with the weight cut. She couldn’t be focused on the proper weight cut and rehydration and then fight. It was a totally different Jessica Andrade in the fight with Weili Zhang. Like I said, she’s the champ. She’s training really, really hard. But she hasn’t faced someone like me yet.”
Having won her last twenty fights, after losing her debut, Zhang has looked unstoppable. However, Jedrzejcyzk is excited for the challenge and wants to test the champion’s cardio.
“I will have to be smart in this fight and I will show my heart and we’re going to play my game but she hasn’t faced someone like me. My cardio is always good and I always improve from camp to camp.
“We’re going to check Weili Zhang in this fight. How is her condition and how she does in the real championship bout.”
For two and a half years, Jedrzejcyzk was nicknamed ‘Joanna Champion’. And come Saturday night, the Polish star wants to reclaim that nickname. In part, to help fans you have trouble pronouncing her surname.
“I just want to make some people’s lives easier because they are still struggling with my family name. That should make it easier.
“I’m going to say it again, I’ve been in this business seventeen years. Multiple time Muay Thai and European champion, six time UFC world champion and this one victory on March 7th is going to be bigger than my whole fighting career, all the titles, everything, all the accomplishments. It’s going to be bigger. I’m looking forward to stepping into the Octagon in the best shape ever and taking it.”
Joanna Jedrzejczyk challenges Zhang Weili for the UFC strawweight title in the co-main event at UFC 248, which goes down Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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