Two straight title fight losses to Rose Namajunas has put Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a bit of a pickle in the UFC’s strawweight division.
Much has been said about the precarious situation former featherweight champion Jose Aldo finds himself in Saturday night in Calgary. At UFC on FOX 30, he’s looking to shake off back-to-back losses against Max Holloway, fights that saw Holloway claim Aldo’s title, then defend it in an immediate rematch. If that scenario sounds familiar, well, you’re not experiencing a touch of déjà vu. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is in the exact same situation at UFC Calgary, at least on paper. An established champ, twice defeated by a young upstart, a shocking turn of events.
There are subtle and not-so-subtle differences. Joanna (we can no longer call her champion, and ex-champion seems harsh) was not finished both times out. The first, yes, but in the rematch, she at least went the distance. Nor does Jedrzejczyk seem as tired of the fight game as Aldo, who has been there, done that, and doesn’t appear to want to be another cog in the machinery. Aldo, in fact, has talked openly of walking away from the sport. Joanna? Not once.
She is at a turning point, however. A year ago, the talk was Jedrzejczyk turning her eye north, attempting to claim a second title as the flyweight division was at long last brought in for the UFC’s women. Then came a shocking defeat to Rose Namajunas. All that talk evaporated almost instantly. Suddenly, her smaller frame seemed dwarfed by fighters like Valentina Shevchenko and Alexis Davis (of course, Jedrzejczyk holds a win over Jessica Andrade, who previously fought at bantamweight, so make of the math what you will).
What this all boils down to, however, is a single question: where does Joanna Jedrzejczyk go from here? In part, it’s a question that will be answered at UFC Calgary. With a loss, she’ll be that much further from the title. Even with a win, a third fight against Namajunas is unlikely; the best case scenario for the Polish striker when it comes to 115lb is for Rose to be dethroned. But a win will at least get her back in the right direction.
Flyweight? It’s still there, less than a year into its existence in the world’s largest MMA promotion. Still sorting itself out. A change of scenery for Jedrzejczyk might be beneficial should she lose. But either way, how long does she want to play the waiting game at 115lbs? With so many foes already vanquished, with too much skill to be a simple gatekeeper, it’s a worthy consideration in any case. And one that adds an interesting story line to her battle against Tecia Torres on Saturday.
UFC Calgary takes place Saturday, July 28 at the Saddledome. The prelims air on TSN in Canada, followed by the main card on CTV TWO.