Friday June 6th 2014 the day before Cage Warriors Super Saturday was my encounter with the current UFC Strawweight Champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. In a stuffy room in the London Hippodrome Casino, 32 fighters were all ready to weigh in ahead of the promotions first ever dual card which would take place the following night at the Forum in Kentish Town.
Of all the 32 fighters to take the scale that day, amidst the rivalry between Lightweights Stevie Ray and Curt Warburton, only one fighter really caught my eye and that was Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Undefeated Jedrzejczyk was 5-0 at the time and due to make her promotional debut against woman’s MMA veteran Rosi Sexton. Whilst Sexton was on a two fight losing streak at the time, Sexton had a wealth of experience in the cage fighting for Cage Warriors, Bellator and the UFC, and was the favourite going into this fight.
But Jedrzejczyk wasn’t to allow this to intimidate her and once the two faced off on the scales it was the Polish fighter who was looking to intimidate her opponent behind at the knees and looking directly up and into the eyes of Rosi Sexton with a cold stare. First point to Jedrzejczyk.
The following night once the cage door had closed and the referee had signalled for the action to start, Jedrzejczyk certainly did not look like the underdog as she moved forward and put on one of the most devastating performances in a cage I have ever witness live. Jedrzejczyk had arrived and in doing so had beaten Sexton into retirement.
Now at 6-0 and coming off the back of the biggest win in her career to date it wasn’t long until the UFC came knocking for the 115lbs prospect. Just a month after her win over Sexton, Jedrzejczyk was an official UFC fighter and she made her debut just 21 days after her win over Sexton.
Julianna Lima was the first opponent for Jedrzejczyk who after starting well in the first round, slowed down in the second which is where Jedrzejczyk put the foot to the peddle and let her striking shine. For most of the second and third round Lima was on the back foot and Jedrzejczyk picked up a unanimous decision win.
A split decision win over Claudia Gadelha saw Jedrzejczyk tested the most in her professional career but again going in as an underdog, Jedrzejczyk shined to pick up the victory and line herself up with a Title shot against Carla Esparza.
UFC 185 saw two World Title’s changing hand and Jedrzejczyk was the first on the card to score the upset and take the Title from Esparza in her first Title defence. A rabbit in the headlights, Esparza failed to takedown Jedrzejczyk and suffered the raft of Jedrzejczyk’s clinical striking which saw a second round TKO and a Polish UFC Champion crowned for the first time in UFC history.
Due to injuries to Alexander Gustafsson UFC needed a headline fight for their UFC Berlin card which took place on 20th June and Jedrzejczyk was more than willing to defend her Title for the first time in Europe against Jessica Penne.
Penne was very much the underdog going into the fight with Jedrzejczyk and after failing to get Jedrzejczyk to the ground in which she would look to utilise her Jiu Jitsu, Penne just didn’t stand a chance striking with the Champ.
Jedrzejczyk bloodied Penne early in the fight with a number of punches, elbows and kicks and at 4:22 of the third round, after Penne’s face had swollen up and nose was badly damaged, referee Marc Goddard stepped in and called the fight off. Joanna Jedrzejczyk had done it again in emphatic fashion. Joanna quickly climbed onto the cage and shouted at the cameras “Who’s Next?” So come on ladies who wants to step up and take on Jedrzejczyk?
There are 29 other women in the current UFC Strawweight roster but given how dominant Jedrzejczyk has been during her relatively short career I don’t suspect there will be a barrage of calls made to UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby demanding a Title shot.
The scariest part me is that Jedrzejczyk hasn’t scratched the surface with her MMA skills in recent bouts and has only had to rely on her striking skills to gain her victories. As UFC Champion you can bet your bottom dollar that she is working wrestling, judo, Jiu Jitsu constantly to ensure she stays as Joanna Champion for the foreseeable future.