An emotional Joanna Jedrzejczyk said she still wants to be around MMA even in retirement.
“This is who I am, this is what made me. I was born to be UFC champion, and I was,” Jedrzejczyk said following UFC 275, where her comeback attempt was foiled in a rematch with Weili Zhang.
While the pair’s first meeting had gone the distance, resulting in the 2020 Fight of the Year, Zhang-Jedrzejczyk 2 ended early in the second round, with the former “Joanna Champion” dropped with a spinning back fist.
Jedrzejczyk announced her retirement following the loss, leaving her gloves in the cage.
“I took my chance, I got this match, and it’s time for the second generation,” she told reporters during the UFC 275 post-fight press conference in Singapore, seemingly content with her decision.
She’ll stick around the sport, however, planning to be in town for International Fight Week in Las Vegas next month, and for UFC Paris as well. And she’s holding her head high despite a tough loss in her final fight inside the octagon.
“I’m proud of myself. When I talk about my dreams from the past, I’m super proud of myself, that I made it. Just don’t give up, guys. Sometimes I was in this super crazy, difficult position and I thought that there was not going to be any help, but there was. There is always an option, but we need to make this first step, that’s the most important.”
“We need to keep on moving in our lives, and fully enjoy the road,” she added. “Fully enjoy the roller coaster.”
Asked to sum up her career in one word, Jedrzejczyk paused for a moment, trying to find the right one. Then it came to her. “Legacy.”
“Legacy. When you read about legacy, it means everything. That you’ve done big things. It’s legacy, legacy. I always wanted to be remembered as one of the greatest, and I will,” explained Jedrzejczyk. “I’m just a girl from the hood, JJ from the hood. And I did big things, quite big. I have to sit and think about what I have [achieved]. I bought a nice apartment two years ago, you know how many times I was there? None. Like maybe I slept there two nights. Now I have time to really fully enjoy it. Go there, spend some time, sit on it and enjoy it. That’s beautiful.”
Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s legacy is unquestionably secure. A future Hall of Famer, she continues to hold the record for the most title defenses in the strawweight division. The Polish fighter captured the title in 2015, defeating Carla Esparza— who happens to hold gold once again today. Five defenses of her championship would follow, against the likes of Claudia Gadelha and Jessica Andrade.
After losing the belt to Rose Namajunas in 2017 and dropping a rematch as well, Jedrzejczyk would attempt to claim a second title at flyweight — but came up short against Valentina Shevchenko.
Wins against Teccia Torres and Michelle Waterson marked the final two victories of Jedrzejczyk’s career, which closes out with back-to-back losses to Zhang — in extremely memorable fights.