Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza have history. In 2015 the Polish striker made a name for herself by brutalizing Esparza at UFC 185 to clinch the UFC strawweight title. However, this past weekend Esparza reclaimed that belt during a timid fight opposite Rose Namajunas.
Many have criticized Namajunas’ passive performance in the fight. However, at the UFC 274 pre-fight press conference Jedrzejczyk seemed more interested in critiquing Esparza.
“I was very surprised,” Jedrzejczyk said (ht MMA Fighting). “Because sometimes you have to do more, you have to do much more to beat the champion but you know I can speak for myself. I can’t speak for Rose but I don’t know what happened. When you feel that the first round wasn’t good and the second [round], you have to do something. Sometimes you have to risk to get the victory even paying a big price. I don’t know what happened. Until the end of the fight, I thought that Rose got it but no and here we go.
“Like Carla, I really thought she was going to look better and I was like this girl deserved the title shot, she had so many [fights] on her win streak but for me, she looked the same as seven years ago when we fought for the belt in Dallas. History likes to make a circle and [I’m] soon to be champ.”
Jedrzejczyk defended the strawweight title twice before losing it to Namajunas in 2017. After an unsuccessful immediate rematch against Namajunas, Jedrzejczyk jumped up in weight and challenged Valentina Shevchenko for the vacant flyweight title.
Shevchenko, who holds two Muay Thai wins over Jedrzejczyk, won that fight by unanimous decision. After that Jedrzejczyk dropped back down to strawweight and beat Michelle Waterson.
In 2020 she lost against then-strawweight champ Zhang Weili in the UFC’s Fight of the Year. On June 11 she is scheduled to rematch against Zhang with hopes that a victory gets her a second fight with Esparza. She said that, after seeing her old foe win back the title she’s feeling more motivated than ever.
“After this weekend, I feel even more motivated. I’m tired because I have been training so hard for my fight with Weili Zhang since January. I got back to American Top Team in the middle of January and I’ve been training from 11 to 13 times a week in the last four months. Before the weekend, I was like I need to make some adjustments in my training schedule but after what I have seen at UFC 274, I’m more motivated and I just want to do more to win.”
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