Former UFC strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrezczyk has stressed her desire to return to the Octagon in tandem with a live open gate and a sold-out arena of attendees, and with the return of fans at selected pay-per-view events this summer, the Pole has earmarked a potential September comeback, in the form of a possible title-eliminator against past-foe and champion, Carla Esparza.
Out of action since March of last year, the Muay Thai ace took co-main event status at UFC 248 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada — stealing the show alongside then-champion, Zhang Weili in a strawweight title fight, which earned the pair to the consensus at least, Fight of the Year honours — as well as claims that the five round affair was the best fight the division had ever seen.
Dropping a close, razor-thin split judging loss to the Hebei native, Jedrzejczyk has yet to feature in active competition since, however, firmly shut down rumours that she is contemplating her future in the sport.
Returning to the United States from her native Poland last week after she had spent a lot of her time as a broadcaster for UFC events, Jedrzejczyk claimed that she, along with former champion, Weili would be the two standout contenders to current champion, Rose Namajunas’ throne — rather than recent victor and inaugural titleholder, Esparza.
“This is what she (Carla Esparza) thinks (she deserves a title shot), she has a few wins, straight — a winning streak,” Jedrzejczyk said. “But, I think the next challenger should be ‘JJ’ or Weili Zhang. This is what I agreed to, only.“
Speaking with MMA Island recently, Jedrzejczyk preliminary earmarked a potential September Octagon return and flirted with the idea of potentially facing past opponent, Esparza to determine the next title challenger at 115lbs.
“I haven’t seen this fight (Carla Esparza vs. Yan Xiaonan) yet, but I will try to watch it,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Congrats to Carla and I’m happy that she has so many straight wins and she’s on this winning patch. Congrats, and I’m happy for her because Yan (Xiaonan) was not an easy opponent.“
“You know, I don’t know what’s next, it’s up to the UFC matchmakers,” Jedrzejczyk said. “And, of course, Carla, and Rose Namajunas, it depends what she’s trying to do next — who she’ll fight next. I don’t know, I feel like me or Weili Zhang could be a better matchup for Rose, of course, I don’t want to take anything from Carla Esparza but I don’t know, I don’t know. Maybe me or Weili Zhang — Carla should face one of us and see if she is really on this championship level.”
As mentioned earlier, Jedrzejczyk maintained that she needs to fight in front of an audience, who give her “extra energy” — and claimed that a September return would be ideal for her.
“It was one of the reasons I didn’t want to fight, because of no fans,” Jedrzejczyk said. “There is no sport without the fans — any sport, they always give me an extra energy but finally the fans are back. There are going to be shows with and without audiences. But I don’t know, September would be a great time for me to fight bud I don’t know, I don’t know.“