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8 Jun, 2022 15:55

Polish queen Jedrzejczyk vows revenge ahead of Zhang rematch

Joanna Jedrzejczyk says that she will take advantage of lessons learned in her last loss to Zhang Weili when they meet at UFC 275
Polish queen Jedrzejczyk vows revenge ahead of Zhang rematch

Former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been absent from the UFC cage for well over two years since she lost out in a close split decision to Zhang Weili in a fight widely regarded as among the finest of all time, but after taking some considerable lessons from the 25 minutes she spending trading heavy leather with the Chinese star in their first fight, Jedrzejczyk says that this time around it won't be quite so closely contested.

Their first meeting was a war of attrition; the type of fistfight which leaves both physical and mental scars. In Jedrzejczyk's case, she was left with a ghastly hematoma on her forehead which even seemed to shock her when she caught a glimpse of it on the big screen. 

More to the point, though, it was a fight which prompted Jedrzejczyk, for whatever reason, to take a step back from the sport at which she had become a world champion.

That hiatus comes to an end this weekend in Singapore at UFC 275, even if the opponent remains the same - but this time around, Jedrzejczyk says the bout won't resemble the firefight that it was last time around.

I’m a real warrior when I step into the Octagon,” she told MMA Fighting.

I take this fight, but I know that I have more tools, and I can be better and more smarter fighter in the octagon during the fight, so I don’t need to exchange only and get this damage. I just need to be more smarter with using my tools, and I will do that this time.

This fight I feel is going to be different. Sometimes I just took the fight and I should be smarter and I took a big lesson and I will change this.”

While statements like this likely won't appeal to some of the UFC's blood n' guts audience, it is the type of stance which extends careers. This time around the fight will - quite more humanely, one feels - take place across three rounds rather than the five it was last time around, which will lessen the chances for the type of visible damage she wore after their first meeting.

But it also gives each fighter that bit less time to work. Slow starts just aren't compatible with three round fights.

And this time, Jedrzejczyk says she knows what to expect - and how to counter it.

Weili Zhang scored most of her punches when she was countering with her cross, with her right hand,” Jedrzejczyk said. “We have to make some adjustments and we’re going to be fine.

I was standing too much in front of her. I was working on moving more before that fight but like I said, I’m a warrior. I took the fight [to her], I went into the battle, into the war and we are going back and forth.

I know what I did so many mistakes and what mistakes I made in this fight,” Jedrzejczyk added.

I’m just looking forward. I’m just proud of myself. I want to keep on winning. I want to win my next fight, I want to keep on winning and fight for the UFC strawweight belt.”

The timing of Jedrzejczyk's return couldn't be more convenient. The once dominant 115lbs champion had lost twice to Rose Namajunas - but her recent title defeat to Carla Esparza has left a glimmer of light in which Jedrzejczyk feels her title ambitions will thrive.

Jedrzejczyk won her first UFC world title in 2014, squashing Esparza in the process. 

She’s maybe not the gatekeeper, but I know if I beat Weili Zhang I will get the title shot,” Jedrzejczyk stated.

I didn’t want to push to fight Rose Namajunas because I knew Carla Esparza was going to be next and I had to wait a long time. I just want to fight.

Like I said so many months ago, I just want to fight. I want to fight the best and it’s happening. Weili Zhang is right there.”