After her fifth successful title defense in May 2017, Joanna Jedrzejczyk further cemented her status as the greatest strawweight champion of all time. She was undefeated in her career and looked completely unstoppable.

Photo: Eric Coleman

Her world class striking to go along with her strong takedown defense proved to be a nightmare for every contender she faced. She had no problem keeping a relentless pace for 5 rounds and was able to break her opponents. Jedrzejczyk was also intimidating outside the octagon, where she would destroy her opponents on the mic or during face-offs, every chance she got.

Jedrzejczyk looked like an untouchable force before and as champion until she lost her belt to “Thug” Rose Namajunas in November 2017 via first round TKO. Things changed after this loss, and she could no longer boast an unblemished record.

Jedrzejczyk would go on to lose 3 of her next 5 fights, 3 of which were for a belt. She lost the rematch against Namajunas, beat Tecia Toress, lost a flyweight championship bout to Valentina Schevchenko, defeated Michelle Waterson and then lost a fight of the year to strawweight champion Zhang Weili.

UFC/ZUFFA

Let’s be honest, her record looks much worse than it is since the first Namajunas loss, especially given the names she has lost to and her performances in those fights. She has fought killers throughout her career and her last few losses have all been close fights against champions or former champions.

Her war with Zhang Weili in March 2020 was easily the fight of the year and could have gone either way. I do believe Weili won the decision, but would not have been too opposed if Jedrzejczyk got her hand raised and a belt rapped around her waist that night.

UFC/ZUFFA

The former champion has not fought in almost a year now since that nasty battle in March and we cannot wait for her return. The Polish superstar had MMA fans speculating and excited when she hinted at a return through an Instagram post on Monday.

“From the depths of defeat she reevaluated
From the beating of her heart she believed
From the shadows she focused and arouse
A girl from Poland
Champion of the World.”

There is only 1 fight in the strawweight division that is exciting for #2 Jedrzejczyk and could help her get back to a title shot. #3 strawweight Yan Xiaonan is looking for a big fight that would give her a first UFC title shot. Xiaonan is undefeated in the UFC since entering in 2017 having beat the likes of Angela Hill, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Claudia Gadelha in her last 3.

Given both these fighters’ resum├Ęs, the winner of this fight deserves to fight for the belt, which would probably be against the winner of Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas/Carla Esparza, who are in talks for the next title fight.

Jedrzejczyk might have lost her undefeated record but she is still one of the best fighters in the world, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if she works her way back and becomes a two-time champion in the UFC.

By Tanaay Shah

Journalist. Would love to be a matchmaker. Haymaker MMA podcast

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