Why we shouldn't count out another title run for Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Elias CepedaYahoo Sports Contributor
Joanna Jedrzejczyk works out at Yuengling Center on Oct. 09, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Zuffa LLC)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk works out at Yuengling Center on Oct. 09, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Zuffa LLC)

After losing the strawweight world title in late 2017 and now having lost three out of her last four bouts, overall, Joanna Jedrzejczyk is definitely not heading into Saturday’s UFC main event against Michelle Waterson with a lot of momentum. Still, it would be a mistake to think she doesn’t have another championship run in her already legendary MMA career.

If Jedrzejczyk can beat Waterson this weekend, she’ll be positioned nicely for another shot at gold, soon. Overall, there are many reasons why it isn’t hard to believe that the Polish warrior still has it in her to vie for another title.

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Read on for four such reasons.

Jedrzejczyk’s skills match up well with top contenders and champs

(L-R) Opponents Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Michelle Waterson face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at the Westin Tampa Waterside on Oct. 11, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
(L-R) Opponents Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Michelle Waterson face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at the Westin Tampa Waterside on Oct. 11, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Much of this argument isn’t hypothetical, as the former champion has already faced many of the elite women at strawweight and flyweight. So far, she’s only lost to two of them — Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko.

Namajunas scored a knockout in their first outing, but had to settle for an impressive decision win in their rematchShevchenko most recently beat Jedrzejczyk, also by decision, up a class at flyweight.

Jedrzejczyk was far from out-classed by either Namajunas or Shevchenko in her 2018 bouts against them, and there’s no particular reason to believe follow-up meetings with them wouldn’t also be competitive. Jedrzejczyk has size and serious power at strawweight sufficient to credibly challenge the division’s new champion Zhang Weili, as well as the technical MMA boxing and combination striking overall to once again beat the likes of former champion Jessica Andrade.

She’s also still incredibly hard to take down, and she pressure-fights like almost no one else in the sport. Simply put, there isn’t anyone at flyweight or strawweight that could reliably make easy work of Jedrzejczyk, and so she’ll always have her chances to win.

Jedrzejczyk is mentally strong

Joanna Jedrzejczyk (L) has shown she can take hits and keep storming forward. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (L) has shown she can take hits and keep storming forward. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Jedrzejczyk most certainly likes to bully her opponents, both before fights and during them. Still, she doesn’t fall apart when that goes awry and she loses.

She lost multiple times in kickboxing and still had the wherewithal to come into MMA like a dominant whirlwind. After losing twice to Namajunas, Jedrzejczyk didn’t appear to lose any of her aggressiveness in beating perennial top-contender Tecia Torres, either.

Jedrzejczyk, like all people, is beatable. She does not, however, appear to be breakable.

That is to say, she appears to have the psychology necessary to absorb and move past traumatic setbacks, and keep doing the work necessary to be a champion.

Jedrzejczyk has two divisions to try and get a belt back in

Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland enters the ring prior to her fight against Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan in a flyweight bout during the UFC 231 event at Scotiabank Arena on Dec. 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland enters the ring prior to her fight against Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan in a flyweight bout during the UFC 231 event at Scotiabank Arena on Dec. 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Jedrzejczyk has admittedly always had trouble cutting down to strawweight. Like, a lot.

Yet, she has never missed the mark on the scales, there. So, though weight-cutting can’t be healthy for her just as it isn’t for any fighter, if she wants to continue campaigning at 115 for a bit longer it seems like she’ll be able to.

As for flyweight, she fought for years at 125 and looked solid against her rival Shevchenko in 2018. She’s a credible contender and threat in both divisions at once, giving her more options than most fighters have for that reason alone.

Jedrzejczyk is an international star

Being as popular and well-known across the globe as Jedrzejczyk is means she’ll be a promotional favorite to challenge for belts. Joanna “Champion” sells fights and then fights like hell, every time.

She can move tickets Stateside in metropolises like New York and Chicago, and she can do the same on several other continents. When deciding between lesser-known contenders and a magnetic draw like Jedrzejczyk, the UFC is likely to choose her almost every time.

All this means that so long as Jedrzejczyk can keep putting together one or two wins, she should have opportunities to challenge for titles again in not just one but two different divisions. The former champ should not want for future shots.

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