Former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is not mincing words about her matchup against Michelle Waterson in the main event of UFC Tampa this weekend.
Jedrzejczyk (15-3) arrives in Tampa having lost three of her last four fights, but remains adamant that a win puts her right back into the No. 1 contender spot.
“I will get my hand raised and then get my belt back,” Jedrzejczyk told TFN.
— UFC (@ufc) August 31, 2019
After losing the title to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217 and again during a rematch at UFC 223, the UFC’s women’s strawweight belt has twice changed hands. First to Jessica Andrade and now Zhang Weili, China’s first UFC championship, who cruised through Andrade with a first-round knockout at UFC Shenzhen.
“Zhang Weili was the underdog in her fight against Jessica Andrade, but she won in a very spectacular way,” she said.
“She’s the champ right now and no one can ever take that away from her. She is a great striker and I always want to face the best in the business. I’m focused on my fight this Saturday with Michelle Waterson, but after that I will make my move.”
Refreshed & Refocused
Jedrzejczyk returns to the UFC after an 11 month break, something she said was needed after a gruelling schedule that tested her motivation for the sport and her hunger to compete.
The longest-reigning champion in the strawweight division, she was undefeated until 2017. Since then it’s been a rocky road getting back-to-back wins.
But the former champ this is now behind her and she’s ready to restart her run to the top. And she’s to make a statement along the way.
“I’m an athlete and I want to win. The statement this weekend is going to be clear. I deserve to be the next challenger for the strawweight title and I’m going to be strawweight champion once again.”
In preparation for this weekend, Jedrzejczyk is coming off an huge, 13 week camp with American Top Team, plus a stint in Holland with her former striking coach Ernesto Hoost fine tuning her Muay Thai skills.
“I have been focused on my footwork, my reach and my distance. I’ve taken it back to basics for this next fight. I know people see my last fights and wonder, but I know who I am as a person and an athlete.
“I feel like I’ve got a second wind. My personal life and my business life are going very well. I’ve set my goals and set my dreams. I’m ready to write other chapter in my life.”
As with any fight week, there’s been a fair amount of challenges and distractions. Questions about her weight have been tossed around, in addition to a hectic media schedule. But it’s all par for the course as Jedrzejczyk looks to rediscover the form that made her one of the most feared competitors on the UFC roster.
“I train to be the best in every fight and this one is no different.”