Joanna Jedrzejczyk is the former UFC strawweight champion and held that reign for years before she was shockingly knocked out to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217. Since then, she has yet to reclaim the title, as she lost again to Namajunas then moved up in weight to flyweight and lost a title fight there, as well.
Now, however, she is committed to staying at strawweight and at UFC Tampa will take on Michelle Waterson. With a win, she says she will receive a title shot against new champion, Weili Zhang. But, something interesting is the fact that the former champ turned down a fight against Zhang three times.
“She’s good, but the truth is they offered me Weili Zhang three times before that fight and the thing is, she needed me,” she said on the Eurobash Podcast on MMA Fighting. “Okay, she’s the champ now so it might look like she never needed me to become someone. Sometimes people are like, ‘Do you know who she is now?’ Of course I know who she is, but I fight in the Octagon, you know? I’m a professional athlete, I’m a businesswoman and I know who I am. I don’t do fights on Twitter.
“If [others fighters] call me out, I like it because I know I am in a strong position. Why are they calling me out? Because they know I can bring them to a different level. Maybe they can be lucky and win against former UFC champion, a dominant champion, which I was. [That would allow them to] get better money, get better exposure. Of course, they offered me Weili Zhang, but my goal was to fight for the belt. I took my spot, now I’m fighting Waterson and then I will go for the belt. Slowly, step-by-step, I will reach my goals and my dreams,” she said.
“The thing is, there is a new UFC Performance Institute in China, so they probably needed a good fight and they just gave the title fight to this Chinese chick. She won, good for her; I’m very happy for her. I think she’s very strong, she’s very dynamic and she’s a good puncher. I hope she’s going to be a good champ for the UFC and the division before I face her.”
Regardless, the hope for Joanna Jedrzejczyk is that she will get to fight Weili Zhang next if she can get passed Michelle Waterson.