Namajunas and Jędrzejczyk have shared the cage together twice in the past. At UFC 217 in November, 2017, “Thug Rose” experienced her first title crowning after dethroning the Polish star in memorable and violent style.
In her first defense, Namajunas ran it back with Jędrzejczyk, who hadn’t lost in professional MMA before colliding with the Milwaukee native. In their rematch at UFC 223 in April 2018, it was once again the younger strawweight who had her hand raised, this time on the scorecards after five rounds of action.
Despite being two down in their series and having not fought in over two years, Jędrzejczyk is targeting a third date with Namajunas before the year is out.
Jędrzejczyk: Namajunas Knows What It Means To Be A Champion
To begin her quest for a second reign on the throne, Jędrzejczyk will first have to achieve a feat she failed to accomplish at UFC 248 in 2020: defeat Zhang Weili.
The Pole is set to face the Chinese star again at UFC 275 in June. Should she emerge victorious this time, Jędrzejczyk expects to be next in line for a shot at gold, something that may be surprising to some given her previous two meetings with the champ.
During a recent interview with MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin, who cited talk of Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski 3 as evidence that 0-2 trilogies are not as frowned upon as they perhaps would have been a number of years ago, Jędrzejczyk insisted Namajunas would not “run” from a potential third fight.
“I know after I beat Weili Zhang, I will get the title shot. I didn’t wanna like, push to fight Rose Namajunas because I knew that Carla Esparza was going to be next… I believe (Namajunas will fight me again). Because Rose, she doesn’t run away from fights. She knows what does it mean to be the champ, and yeah, perfect plan (is) to fight in Madison Square Garden in November for the belt with Rose Namajunas. Would be nice to get the rematch there.”
While many rising stars will perhaps be dismissive of Jędrzejczyk’s title credentials, the former strawweight queen believes she’s an example of the kind of ‘championship gatekeeper’ whom prospects have to go through in order to stake their claim for a place in title contention.
“There are so many upcoming prospects, and I’m hearing this all the time, ‘She don’t deserve this, she doesn’t deserve this, that,’ or, ‘They don’t deserve the rematch.’ But there are so many upcoming prospects, but when they hit the top three, top five… They go down, you know… There are these gatekeepers to the championship fights. I feel like I’m there, and that’s why there are so many rematches.”
Before turning her attention to a trilogy fight with Namajunas, two results need to happen. First, the champion must successfully defend her title this weekend at UFC 274 when she shares the Octagon with Carla Esparza.
Then, a month later, Jędrzejczyk must win her comeback fight against Zhang Weili at UFC 275. Should everything line up nicely, perhaps the 34-year-old will stand toe-to-toe with “Thug Rose” once more.
How do you think a trilogy fight between Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Rose Namajunas would play out?