ABU DHABI – Coach Mike Brown thinks that at this point in her career, Joanna Jedrzejczyk should only be competing in big fights.
Former strawweight queen Jedrzejczyk may be enduring the roughest stretch of her career, but remains the most accomplished 115-pounder in UFC history. After five successful title defenses, Jedrzejczyk lost her title to Rose Namajunas in 2017 and has lost four of her past six overall.
But despite her losing skid, Jedrzejczyk (16-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) proved that she’s still in top form. In her past outing at UFC 248 in March, Jedrzejczyk was narrowly edged by current strawweight champion Zhang Weili in a grueling and entertaining battle, which earned MMA Junkie’s 2020 “Fight of the Year” honor.
It’s been almost a year since Jedrzejczyk has last competed, but Brown thinks it’s going to have to be a worthy fight to get the former champion back in the octagon.
“She’s been there, done that, done it all,” Brown told MMA Junkie. “She was a UFC champion for many years and is maybe tied for most title fights – she’s up there for one of the most decorated female fighters of all time, and it’s gotta be something big to draw her in. She’s not gonna fight some small rinky-dink fight that doesn’t mean anything.
“I think it’s going to take something to excite her, something significant to get her off the couch and get her into the cage. But she’s definitely willing and ready and eager and wanting that, but I don’t think at this point in her career she’s going to fight for peanuts or to prove herself. She has nothing to prove. She was a world champion for years, and it has to be something to excite her.”
Jedrzejczyk expressed interest in running things back with Weili, but it appears the UFC has other plans for the champion. Weili’s name has been linked to the likes of Namajunas and Carla Esparza, but Brown is confident that Jedrzejczyk is still in the title picture – even if she’s not next in line.
“I think she’s got a good shot at getting another title shot to be honest just because that fight was so close, she’s a draw, she’s charismatic, people want to see her fight, and I think that’s what she wants,” Brown said. “But I think for that to happen, we need things moving. I think she’s not next, I’m not sure who will be next, whether it’s Rose or whoever it is, but that needs to happen. We need the champion to be fighting, and then I think she’ll get her turn, but I think they want to give some other fights to Weili.”