It’s been thirteen months since former UFC strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk last stepped foot in an Octagon. In the time since, however, it appears she’s plotted her return opponent and wants her first outing of 2021 to come against the victor of this weekend’s UFC 261 co-main event between former opponents, Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas, with the undisputed title up for grabs.
Turning in the consensus 2020 Fight of the Year, as well as arguably the greatest matchup in the history of women’s mixed martial arts, Weili battled with Jedrzejczyk over five, competitive, action-packed rounds to score her first successful defence of the 115-pound crown.
Weili has been out of action since that March co-main event at UFC 248, like Jedrzejczyk, but returns this weekend in Jacksonville, Florida at a sold-out Vystar Veteran’s Memorial Arena — attempting to lodge her second successful championship knockback against former gold holder, Namajunas.
In the time since her failed attempt to pry the title from Weili and regain the strawweight throne, Jedrzejczyk has vigorously denied claims that she was questioning her future in the sport, and maintained that she would prefer to make her Octagon return in tandem with an open gate to fans and attendees.
With the return of fans at the above-mentioned, UFC 261 this weekend, the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas for UFC 262 on May 15th. and the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 264 on July 10th. — Jedrzejczyk appears to be planning a return to training at the end of May, at least.
Speaking with MMA Fighting recently, Jedrzejczyk commented on her upcoming return to Coconut Creek, Florida to longtime training facility, American Top Team.
“I’m living my best life,” Jedrzejczyk said. “With my personal or business problems, we all have it and I’m very happy. I take everything that’s happening in my life and I give a lot. I give one-hundred percent every single day in everything I do but I did as much as I can. I’m still an athlete because I really want to do it but I set my priorities. I have different priorities. I don’t want to be part of this crazy rat race because I was there.“
“I was the champion for a long time,” Jedrzejczyk said. “It’s been a while. I lost the title to Rose Namajunas but I know my value. I gave the Fight of the Year, the fight of the decade and I know I’m still very good. I don’t waste my time. I keep on training all the time. I can’t wait to get back to American Top Team. I’m doing a big T.V. deal in Poland but (I) can’t wait to get back to the (United) States and start training with my team again.“
Making her intentions clear on securing an immediate title shot upon her Octagon return, Jedrzejczyk claimed she spoke on the phone with UFC matchmaker, Mick Maynard — where she called for either Weili or Namajunas next.
“I called Mick (Maynard) a few days ago and I just told him, ‘You know what? The baddest bitch on the planet is back’ so book the fight — watch this fight and tell everybody that I’m next.“
“I was waiting for this fight,” Jedrzejczyk said. “It’s COVID (-19) time, so that’s the only reason why the belt was not stripped. Because once a year you have to defend the belt. But we’re having COVID times but when I was the champion, I was defending the belt like crazy.”
Prior to her championship challenge loss to Weili, the Olsztyn Muay Thai ace had earned her third strawweight title challenge with a pair of unanimous decision wins over both Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson, in between a brief flyweight excursion against Valentina Shevchenko in a vacant title matchup.