There’s no flyweight fancy for Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who has her sights set on the 115lb title following her victory over Tecia Torres at UFC Calgary.
Calgary, AB — You can forget all that talk about Joanna Jedrzejczyk moving north for a shot at the UFC’s flyweight championship. After a convincing win at UFC Calgary, the former 115lb champion has eyes only for the strawweight title. You can’t blame her, really. After suffering back-to-back losses to Rose Namajunas, the usual questions began to arise about her legacy. Yet that’s something she put to rest on Saturday.
As to how she did that, well, she once again showed the artistic side of fighting. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is a fighter known for high volume, high paced striking battles that see her move in and out, utilizing the center of the octagon in a way few fighters do. So when she engaged in a clinching battle along the cage early in the first round, territory that might be better suited to opponent Tecia Torres, something was different. Torres would eventually turn the former champ, clutching a leg while looking for a takedown. Yet through the first round, she was unable to land one.
That was a theme on the night. Round two saw the more familiar sight of Joanna working kicks and combos out in the opening. Attacking the legs of the tiny Tornado, who very much lived up to her name in movement and speed. Tazmanian She-Devil would be a fitting moniker as well. Yet before long, the second round became a clinch affair as well, driven there by Torres, who had managed to force Jedrzejczyk to the fence.
Dangerous terrain? No problem. If there is artistry in martial arts (and there is, never mind what Meryl Streep tells you), then there was artistry in Joanna’s attacks. Artistry in the way Torres methodically cut off the cage, eventually drawing Jedrzejczyk into a brief firefight to end the second round. Joanna, of course, was happy to engage, given firefights are so often where she shines. And no matter where the fight went, Joanna seemed a step ahead.
The third saw Jedrzejczyk come out with a look. Writers will tend to say a fighter came out with a look of determination, or panic, or fear. The honest answer is, that mostly depends on whether that fighter wins the fight. It’s so much easier to say they came out looking determined in hindsight. Yet she did. She held off a late surge by Torres. And came out with the unanimous decision.
Legacy questions put to rest. The question now becomes, what’s next? The answer, for Jedrzejczyk, is clear. It’s strawweight or bust.
Post-fight, she addressed that, and those who questioned her after the Namajunas losses, which still don’t sit well with her. “The worse thing in this sport is that one person wins, the other loses. You cannot take second place,” she told the media present. “People call you a loser. But both fighters always perform. They spend so many weeks away from their family, they work hard every day.”
“You win, you lose, you’re still a winner, you know. It doesn’t matter.”
Having won when it counted most, however, there’s still the matter of who’s next.
After her second fight with Rose, Jedrzejczyk admitted that she didn’t even want to talk about fighting for a while. But after a week, she caved, and her and her team did consider flyweight. “We were thinking of me moving up. But we spoke with Dana, and decided to stay at 115. And go for the belt very soon.”
“I feel great,” she added. “You can see, my body changed. I’m strong, even when I’m weighing 115.” No longer does she feel weakened from the cut to strawweight.
Later, she’d say that “I will stay in this weight class because I know this belt belongs to me.” You have to wonder if the former champion now has an obsession with reclaiming her throne.
Obviously, Rose is not going to be next, and Joanna jedrzejczyk has cleaned out the division. Yet there’s no one on the radar now that has her attention. “I focus on myself and what I can do,” she told Cageside Press on Saturday at the post-fight press conference. “Every camp, I’m motivation for myself. I am an idol for myself.”