Joanna Jedrzeczyk: Champion
“Joanna Jedrzejczyk from Poland! Remember that, because no one is taking this belt from me!”
The above statement sums up the current UFC Women’s Strawweight champion perfectly. A proud Pole, completely confident in her ability and determined to stay at the top of the game for as long as she chooses.
"I know that I'm not the prettiest one, I'm not having big boobies or I'm not American, but I want people to remember me as the best female fighter, undefeated in MMA, and the UFC champion of the world.
"I want to be a legend. I want people to talk about me in five, 10 years, 20 years, that I was one of the best female MMA fighters, that I was one of the best UFC champions in the world back in the day. This is what I want. I just want to retire as an undefeated champion. This is my goal. This is my dream, and I want to make this dream become real life."
In just under three years inside the Octagon, Jedrzejczyk (14-0) is well on her way to fulfilling her dream and becoming one of the greatest champions in UFC history.
After taking the UFC strawweight belt from Carla Esparza at UFC 185 in 2015 she has defended the belt in five consecutive fights and, if victorious in her next fight, will tie Ronda Rousey‘s record for title defenses by a UFC female champion.
This streak is also the second longest among current champs in the UFC, male or female, behind only flyweight champion and ruling pound-for-pound king, Demetrious Johnson’s, who has 10 consecutive defenses.
Already in her wake are fellow strawweight Jessica Penne, Valerie Letourneau, Claudia Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and most recently Jessica Andrade, who was completely outclassed by Jedrzejczyk 50-45, 50-44 and 50-45 on the judges' scorecards, when they meet in the co-headliner of UFC 211 in Dallas.
That leaves the obligatory question…who is next?
While fight pundits and MMA fans debate this, the champ let everyone know how she felt about it, “I don’t care who’s my next opponent, I will put on great work and defend this title for the sixth time.”
The most likely foe to face her next time the Octagon door closes behind her is 24-year-old, #7 ranked, Rose ‘Thug’ Namajunas.
When asked during a recent media day about the potential fight with the champ Namajunas said, “I guess who else is there, really? You got Claudia and Karolina but they already fought the champ once before, and Claudia twice, so I don’t know. It just seems fitting.”
If Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is the next to face Jedrzejczyk for the strap she will be a pronounced underdog. However, it seems by the way she is talking that she believes her recent success in the Octagon, growing confidence, and improved focus could see her come out on top.
“Even with my zombie self sometimes, I’m a dangerous mother……….. I tell you that. When I’m mentally right, there’s no one that can beat me.”
Whether Joanna fights Rose or someone else in the Top 10, I believe she will once again show that she is in a class of her own and defend her title once again.
I also see Rousey’s consecutive championship defenses record being not only broken but being well and truly beaten by the end of Jedrzejczyk’s career and I don’t think that is all.
There is no reason to think that she can not emulate Conor MacGregor and become a multi-weight UFC champion as she will most certainly go up and try to grab a second belt in the 125-pound weight class which will soon launch once all her legitimate challengers have been defeated at 115-pounds.
Finally, I see her leaving the sport and being regarded as not only the best female to ever enter the Octagon in any weight class but one of the very best pound for pound fighters, in general, to step foot inside the cage.
It is not only Joanna’s ability to produce the goods on fight night that sets her apart from her competition but like anyone at the top of their chosen field it is her work ethic and drive to persistently better herself in all facets of the sport.
“Even if I’m getting older, I feel this fire. And I want to learn. Since I moved to American Top Team, I feel I’m the bird who escaped from the cage, if you know this meaning. So that’s the thing. I’m very hard on myself every day, and you can ask my coaches.
“I’m not happy even after a good training session because I know I can do better. There’s always something to change and do better. So that’s why I’m going to keep on defending this belt. I feel like I stepped on a different level and I’m looking forward. I’m going on vacation for a few days, flying back to Poland to spend some time with my family, but I cannot wait to get back to ATT and put on work again with my team because it’s amazing.”
Jedrzejczyk’s main focus will always remain her performance in the Octagon however she has certainly not been naïve with her approach to life outside of it as she realizes it is not only your fighting style but your personality and likability that take a fighter from being just a fighter to being a brand…and making the big money al la MacGregor and Rousey.
“That’s why I moved to the U.S., that’s why I moved to ATT because I want to build my brand in the U.S. MMA in Poland is very big, but there are other organizations. The UFC is going to be for the second time in Poland this year. People know a lot about my MMA, but I feel like I’m an international champion. The UFC is simply the best organization in the world, and most of the shows are here in the United States.
“I feel like I need to be here to build my brand. I just signed with new management, I met a few agents and I want to put on more outside the gym, outside the octagon. But the most important thing is to work hard and to keep defending the belt.”
She really is the whole package!
To find out more about her next opponent, a potential move up in weight or even her love of donuts, subscribe to the UFC Channel on PADLOKT.com today to talk with Joanna Champion live via video (or watch live via live stream) on June 21 @ 7PM PDT where Joanna Jedrzejczyk will answer all your questions.
Whether you’re a fight fan or just like to see a fun-loving yet ruthless champ tell it how it is, this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
Jimmy. R. Nugent