Joanna Jedrzejczyk retires

Joanna Jedrzejczyk opens up on decision to retire: “I wanted to retire on my rules, I didn’t want to be a gatekeeper”

Former UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk recently decided to retire following her loss to Weili Zhang at UFC 275 earlier this month, it was Jedrzejczyk’s second loss to Zhang, who is also a former champion. Their first fight was an instant classic in UFC history and saw Zhang win the strawweight title away from the long-time champion who would then step away from active competition for two years.

While her decision to retire came as somewhat of a surprise, the trailblazer in not only the UFC’s strawweight division but also women’s MMA as a whole, had quite the run in her stories UFC career. She won the title from Carla Esparza back in 2015, and would go on to make five consecutive title defenses in her reign as champion.

The first fall for Joanna Jedrzejczyk would come against Rose Namajunas at UFC 217, who would go on to defeat Jedrzejczyk in two consecutive matchups. She would then attempt to become a two-weight champion but came up short in her bid as Valentina Shevchenko defeated her for the vacant flyweight championship in 2018. The fight schedule for the former champion began to slow down after the loss to Shevchenko as she would return in 2019 to pick up her last win in the Octagon, defeating Michelle Waterson by unanimous decision.

Following the back-to-back losses to Weili Zhang, one of the best female fighters in UFC history, called an end to her career. This week, Joanna Jedrzejczyk spoke with Damon Martin of MMA Fighting and discussed her reasoning for retiring, saying she wanted to leave on her own terms, and she never wanted to be view as a gatekeeper.

“That’s thing I always wanted to retire on my own rules, I don’t want to be like this gatekeeper. I don’t want to be this legend who is going to fight forever and forever and get beat up. That’s the thing. I accept where I am at, what my age is. The craziest thing about it is it was the best camp of my life. I was in the best shape ever. Stronger physically, mentally than before. That’s the craziest thing because I’m still having so much love for this sport and I don’t want to leave but somehow, I have to take care of myself”

At 35-years old, Joanna Jedrzejczyk recognizes that while she decided to have the career of a professional fighter, there is a physical toll that was to be paid. While she understands the decision she’s made, the former champion says she is still trying to digest it all.

“I chose to be a fighter and we have to pay the price. Sometimes you have to be smart enough to say enough to protect yourself for the future. That’s the thing. It’s hard. I’m still digesting my decision, and it isn’t easy, but somehow I’m happy.”

Certainly Jedrzejczyk would have love to have gone out in her career on a win, she is without a doubt a future hall-of-famer and one of the biggest legends in UFC history. A clear mind and understanding of life after fighting appears to have been one of the focus points for her to call it an end to her illustrious career.

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