For the first time in over two years since her incredible classic war against Weili Zhang, former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is preparing for a return to the Octagon, looking to avenge the loss to Zhang. Both women are previous strawweight champions and both are looking to get back to a title shot opportunity, which the winner of their scheduled UFC 275 matchup could be in line for depending on how the fight plays out.
With newly-crowned champion Carla Esparza now holding the division title after defeating Rose Namajunas at UFC 274, the division is open for a new title contender, even if that contender is a former champion. As Joanna Jedrzejczyk works to get back to the throne she previously held, she opened up about how her life changed once she lost the title to Zhang at UFC 248 in January of 2020.
In an interview with ‘Throwing Down‘ on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation, Jedrzejczyk discussed how she felt she won her life back once she lost the title to Zhang. As she began preparing for her comeback to the Octagon, many people called for Jedrzejczyk to get a “lesser” opponent and ease her way back into it, but she wasn’t listening to them, she wanted to get right back into facing the very best of the best.
"Losing the belt, I won my life again."
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) May 25, 2022
“When people are like ‘Oh, you should get an easy fight, shake the doubt.’ I’m like, for what? I know what my dream is, being the champ but there is no shortcut. I need to get these big fights only, big money. People, you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s happened to so many people before, easy fight doesn’t mean easy camps.”
Throughout her career Joanna Jedrzejczyk has always given off the vibe of being unbreakable, even despite the losses she’s suffered inside the Octagon but as she told Sirius XM, there was always pressure behind the scenes when she was champion.
“I used to say that there was no pressure when I was the champ, ‘there’s no pressure, there’s no pressure on me’ there was all the pressure. I wanted to make everyone happy, my family, my fans, my management, the UFC, Dana [White], but I forgot about myself. I won my life again, losing the belt, I won my life again. That’s the thing, that’s the beauty. Now? There’s no pressure.
Some critics questioned whether or not Jedrzejczyk wanted to compete again, if she would ever compete again, or if retirement was the best option for the former champion, but she says as she nears 35-years old, she’s in the best shape of her life.
“I was out for two years because I decided to be out for two years. People said ‘She’s retired’ I’m not, I’m in the best shape ever at 34, I’m turning 35 in three months. The weight cut is easy, everything is just easier, I’m more smart. I don’t know what is going to happen in this fight, but you know what? I won the last fight. I will step into the Octagon with this confidence that I won the last fight, maybe it was close, she got the decision, but I’m better.”
Just weeks away from a rematch from their instant classic first matchup, Joanna Jedrzejczyk returns with the confidence of a better fighter, the freedom of making herself happy once again, and a path to becoming champion once again, if the opportunity presents itself.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
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