Joanna Jedrzejczyk – A Pioneer of Women’s MMA

Earlier in June, an icon of MMA determined to hold up the gloves and name it a day. After a devastating second-round knockout defeat to Zhang Weili, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has formally retired. For these new to the game and unaware of its latest historical past, it might seem that Jedrzejczyk was merely not adequate to succeed on the highest stage within the UFC. Indeed in her final seven fights within the group, she misplaced 5 of them and suffered main harm alongside the way in which. Three of those losses had been additionally title fights.

Yet, Joanna at one time limit was not solely a champion within the UFC, however was among the many most dominant in the complete promotion. This article will talk about the profession of Joanna Jedrzejczyk and the way she cemented herself as the best strawweight champion of all time.

Early Career/Winning Title

Born in Poland, Jedrzejczyk would first be launched to martial arts on the age of 16 when she started training Muay Thai. She would participate in numerous kickboxing and Muay Thai competitions over the following 10 years, profitable 5 IMFA gold medals as an novice in addition to profitable 5 separate world titles as an expert compiling a report of 27-3.

Joanna would make her skilled MMA debut in May 2012, and over the following two years would stay unbeaten, choosing up six victories earlier than signing to the UFC in 2014. Joanna would combat within the newly shaped strawweight division and decide up her first win over Juliana Lima through unanimous choice. Due to the latest creation of the division, there was an absence of fighters to fill it up, and Jedrzejcyk discovered herself thrust right into a No. 1 contender’s combat in what was solely her second combat underneath the UFC banner. She would go on to win this combat as nicely, beating Claudia Gadelha through break up choice in a combat that many thought ought to have gone the opposite manner.

Yet she pushed on and was lined as much as face Strawweight champ Carla Esparza at UFC 185 in Esparza’s first title defence. Jedrzejczyk went on to show any naysayers and doubters of her capability completely improper by emphatically ending Esparza within the second spherical through TKO. The reign that adopted can be unprecedented within the historical past of the division and has but to be replicated to at the present time. 

Championship Reign

Once profitable the belt in 2015, Jedrzejczyk would go on to defend the strap a report 5 instances over the following two years. For context, Weili and Rose Namajunas are tied in second place relating to title defenses throughout the identical reign, every holding a single protection. Joanna would decide up victories over Jessica Penne and Valerie Letourneau, in addition to notably solidifying her controversial victory over Claudia Gadelha by cruising to a unanimous choice win in her third title protection.

She would then defeat fellow Polish fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 205 on a present that was described by UFC President Dana White as being the largest within the firm’s historical past. This was adopted by defeating Jessica Andrade (who would later go on to turn out to be a champion in her personal proper). Joanna throughout this time appeared completely invincible, as if she was in a special league to the remainder of her opponents. It was extraordinarily tough to think about anybody dethroning her anytime quickly. Of course, as everyone knows, she would lastly meet her match at UFC 217 when she was knocked out by Namajunas in a combat that was thought-about one of many largest upsets within the sport on the time. 

Losing the belt and combating Weili

Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s legacy didn’t finish with the defeat to Namajunas, although. Possibly her most beneficial contribution to ladies’s MMA was nonetheless but to return. She would lose to Namajunas in a rematch of their UFC 217 encounter earlier than choosing up a win in opposition to Tecia Torres, one other loss in opposition to Valentina Shevchenko for the flyweight championship after which a win in opposition to Michelle Waterson upon a return to strawweight.

The win in opposition to Waterson would propel her to a title shot for the strawweight crown in opposition to Zhang Weili. The combat in opposition to Weili is not going to solely go down as undoubtedly the best combat in ladies’s MMA but in addition as one of many best fights in MMA as an entire. Action over all 5 rounds noticed each Weili and Jedrzejczyk dish out heavy harm to 1 one other with Jedrzejczyk sustaining the long-lasting hematoma harm on her brow which noticed her trying extra like Megamind versus a UFC fighter. Yet, she persevered and the combat went the gap with Weili in the end profitable the break up choice.

Many thought, together with myself, that Jedrzejczyk did sufficient to win the combat. Though the winner and loser aren’t an important issues to remove from this combat, relatively the main focus needs to be on the impression it had on ladies’s MMA as an entire.

Despite the existence of Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes, ladies’s MMA continues to be in its infancy and there are specific units of followers who look down upon it and can present no real interest in a card headlined by ladies, and even have any thought in regards to the panorama and rankings of the ladies’s divisions as an entire. Often these individuals state that there’s a lack of talent in ladies’s MMA and that the general high quality is lower than their male counterparts. Joanna Jedrzejczyk, in addition to Zhang Weili, helped shatter this idiotic ideology by delivering presumably the best combat that the group and even the game has ever seen and has completely and in the end legitimized ladies’s MMA to all potential critics and naysayers.


Ultimately the conclusion of this text is to not say that Joanna is the best ladies’s fighter of all time, as arguments might be made for the likes of Rousey, Nunes, Cyborg, Shevchenko, and so on. However, Jedrzejczyk is no less than in the identical bracket because the names beforehand talked about. Too many dismiss her declare as the best strawweight of all time as a result of losses on her report in direction of the tip of her profession.

Yet, when one examines her resume, this can be very spectacular, together with a victory over the present champion, Esparza. What is much more spectacular than Jedrzejczyk’s report is her longevity and the legacy that she’s going to go away behind. By far essentially the most dominant strawweight within the historical past of the division, she was to the strawweight division what Shevchenko is to flyweights or Nunes and Rousey had been to bantamweights and needs to be placed on the identical pedestal as them. All in all, she was a real pioneer for MMA and can go down as a legend of the game and one of many best to ever do it.

Leave a Comment