Joanna Jedrzejczyk is looking to reclaim her strawweight crown when she battles the current champion Weili Zhang in the co-main event of UFC 248 this Saturday.
Jedrzejczyk held the title from March 2015 to November 2017 and then lost it to Rose Namajunas. Since then, she had another chance at the belt and fought for the vacant flyweight belt but came up short.
“It’s a dream come true. It will be my 14th fight in the UFC and 10th time fighting for a belt,” Jedrzejczyk said to BJPENN.com. “I’m very happy that the UFC has this trust and faith in me that I can do it and will.”
Entering this fight, Jedrzejczyk is a slight underdog as many think Zhang’s power will be the difference-maker. The Chinese champion also only has four UFC fights, but the Pole points to the fact that she won the belt in just her second Octagon appearance and plans to show the difference on Saturday.
“I became the UFC strawweight champion after two UFC fights, what about this? People didn’t know much about me either, so it doesn’t change anything,” she explained. “I have to be ready for anything and everything. I’m facing the best strawweight and she’s my next big challenge. She’s the baddest women but I plan on taking back what belongs to me in the strawweight belt. I ran this division for two years and eight months. This will be a perfect night for me.”
In this fight, Jedrzejczyk believes she has a clear cardio advantage as Zhang has never gone five rounds before. She also believes she will frustrate the champion with her constant pressure and volume of punches.
Yet, the former champion knows she has to be worried about Zhang’s finishing ability.
“She has never faced someone like me, at the very top. I went through so many five-round battles, wars. I get better with every round and I know she will try and come forward,” she said. “But, I need to be smart in this fight to keep the pace and stay calm and make her quit round to round. Make her be tired in there.
“But, she can knock out people out and the thing is, she’s looking for a submission I think. She’s submitted people and she’s dangerous at everything,” Jedrzejczyk continued. “I’m going to be prepared for everything.”
If Joanna Jedrzejczyk does indeed beat Weili Zhang at UFC 248 and reclaim her title, she says the win is bigger than her legacy.
“This victory is bigger than my whole legacy. This win means everything on March 7. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody even to myself,” she said. “I know how I want to cement my legacy on March 7 again and becoming a two-time UFC strawweight champion, for me and my family and friends, it is everything. My legacy is so big, and I’m doing this for myself now.”
In the end, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has already said she would like her first title defense to be against Rose Namajunas. After that, she isn’t opposed to going back up in weight to flyweight.
“It is an option. I like to challenge myself but right now I’m focused on winning the belt and defending the belt. Who knows what will be next,” she concluded.
Do you think Joanna Jedrzejczyk will beat Weili Zhang at UFC 248?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/2/2020.