In the period from the first half of 2015 until the end of 2017, Joanna Jedrzejczyk was considered by many to be the best MMA fighter in the world. The Pole sovereignly ruled the straw category, acted invincible, and entered five belt defenses.
Her stance, speed, impeccable technique and very good defense against demolition, were her deadly weapons for which no fighter in that category had a solution. Until the appearance of Rose Namajunas. "Thug" Rose surprised the world by knocking out Joanna in the first round of the showdown in November 2017, and she also beat her in the return match.
After that, Jedrzejczyk recorded two victories (Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson) and two defeats (Valentina Shevchenko and Zhang Weili). Joanna's last performance was against Weili Zhang, and it happened in the third month of 2020.
After five rounds of arguably the best women’s MMA fight ever, Joanna Jedrzejczyk lost by a split judge’s decision. The damage to the Pole's face went viral. Her face was totally deformed, and Joanna decided to pause longer after that defeat.
The break lasted a long time and Joanna lost her place in the standings. However, upon her return, she will have a rematch against Zhang, and she will do it this weekend at the UFC 275 event. The match this time will not be in five rounds, but in three, but we are all hoping for a new spectacle.
Dana White thickened the stakes of that match with the latest statements. “This would definitely be that whoever wins this will definitely fight Esparza for the title,” White said as a guest on The Underground ahead of the event.
So, the fight between Joanna and Zhang is actually a "title eliminator" and Jedrzejczyk could theoretically reach the title as early as this year, despite a long break. An additional motivation for the Pole will be the fact that she won the title against Esparza for the first time.
Joanna destroyed Esparza in 2015 and stopped her with a technical knockout in the second round. The impression is that Esparza is much more than e.g. Rose Namajunas and the match against Zhang is of great importance for Jedrzejczyk.
The Pole was very close to victory in the first match against the great Chinese, but the divided referee's decision still went to Zhang's side.
Joanna revealed where she sees the biggest mistake in that match
“I’m a real warrior when I step into the octagon,” Jedrzejczyk explained when speaking to MMA Fighting.
“I take this fight, but I know that I have more tools, and I can be better and more smarter fighter in the octagon during the fight, so I don’t need to exchange only and get this damage. I just need to be more smarter with using my tools, and I will do that this time.
“This fight I feel is going to be different. Sometimes I just took the fight and I should be smarter and I took a big lesson and I will change this”. “Weili Zhang scored most of her punches when she was countering with her cross, with her right hand,” Jedrzejczyk said.
“We have to make some adjustments and we’re going to be fine. “I was standing too much in front of her. I was working on moving more before that fight but like I said, I’m a warrior. I took the fight [to her], I went into the battle, into the war and we are going back and forth”.
explained Jedrzejczyk, who is obviously planning to take a different approach to the rematch. As for Zhang, she registered her first and only belt defense in the first match against Joanna. She later lost the title to Rosa Namajunas and failed to regain it in the return leg.
Despite defeats by Namajunas, Jedrzejczyk believes Zhang is still very dangerous. “She’s very tough,” Jedrzejczyk said. “She has an amazing gas tank. She’s shorter. She’s muscular, she’s very strong.
She’s similar to Jessica Andrade. But when you face girls like Weili or Andrade, who are very muscular, you think they are going to be very strong, but they are not as strong as they look." “I was surprised how good I was in the clinch.
I’m skinnier and I’m taller during the fight always than the other girls but I did very well. I was very impressed with how strong mentally she was and she is. Great character, great warrior”. Joanna praised her.
We can hope to watch at least approximately as good a match as on the first occasion, but then it will remain somewhat unfortunate because the match was not contracted for five rounds. Still, there is no need to fuss, and we are looking forward to this rematch.