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TAMPA, Fla. – Joanna Jedrzejczyk feels rejuvenated.
Jedrzejczyk, the former UFC women’s strawweight champion, put on a masterful performance and cruised to a five-round unanimous decision victory over Michelle Waterson (17-7 MMA, 5-3 UFC) on Saturday night in the UFC on ESPN+ 19 headliner from Amalie Arena.
Following the conclusion of the fight, Jedrzejczyk (16-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) spoke to media backstage. She was glowing and expressed happiness with her performance, her relief in having fight week drama behind her, and her gratitude to be part of the UFC.
From the opening seconds to the final horn, Jedrzejczyk picked apart Waterson, who was scrappy the entire fight. Crisp, technical striking was on full display – especially when it came to leg kicks.
Despite possibly breaking her foot in either the second or third round (she couldn’t remember), Jedrzejczyk continued to throw kicks with her injured limb.
“I’m super happy,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Tough fight, but dominant performance. … I took the fight second by second. I’m happy, happy, happy. I’m just happy.
“… I think I broke (my foot) at the end of the second or third round. In the fifth round, I was like, ‘OK, I shouldn’t kick with this foot.’ I felt pain, but then I was like, ‘(Expletive) it. What worse can happen? I’m going to break it in three pieces? They’re going to put it back together. That’s it.’ It’s a tough business.”
Unlike her past fight weeks, the lead-up to UFC on ESPN+ 19 involved a lot of drama. Initially, Jedrzejczyk denied swirling rumors of a tough weight cut. However, she opened up on the reality of the situation.
“When I saw on the scale big weight, I just wanted to give a heads up,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I’m a pro. What I had to go through before the fight with Rose Namajunas, I had my fight. I was not a competitor that fight. I don’t want to take anything from Rose Namajunas.
“She was the champ. She’s a great athlete, and she’s going to become the champ probably one more time one day. But I had my fight. I’m 32. I cannot put my life and health on the line. It’s not worth any money. I made the weight a healthy way. I hydrated well. A big, big, big credit to the UFC Performance Institute.”
Jedrzejczyk also denied having any sort of fallout with nutritionist George Lockhart, as was alleged by Mike Dolce on Twitter earlier in the week.
While she wasn’t able to make the call to her boss immediately after the fight, Jedrzejczyk said she was hoping to speak with UFC president Dana White as soon as possible.
Why? She wanted to tell him how much she appreciates fighting for the organization. But don’t get it twisted – she isn’t sucking up to him.
“I will call Dana definitely,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I love him so much, and it was an honor to fight for him. It was life-changing for me signing with the UFC. I remember at the time when Lorenzo was here. But (with) the new owners, we have more possibilities. I’m very blessed and happy to fight for the UFC. The best MMA organization in the world.
“Big thanks to Dana. It’s not like I’m trying to be sweet and put a finger into his ass. But that’s not true because he knows what’s up.”
When she returns, Jedrzejczyk hopes to fight for the strawweight title against newly crowned champ Weili Zhang in a stadium show in Poland in Spring 2020. There is no bigger motivation for the Polish fighter than UFC gold.
“It means a lot,” Jedrzejczyk said. “My legacy is big. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody, even to myself. Probably, I should stop. But I want to do this. I want to keep on doing this because it’s my life. I was born for that, and I feel like it’s my mission.”
News | MMA Junkie