Whenever she is asked about her first fight with reigning UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Claudia Gadelha will scream from the mountaintops that two of the three cageside judges robbed her that December night in Phoenix.
Gadelha lost to Jedrzejczyk via split decision in one of the featured fights of UFC on Fox 13, and Gadelha been waiting nearly two years for her chance to exact revenge. The Brazilian has been involved in dozens of verbal skirmishes and several shoving matches with her hated rival ever since their bout, culminating in the two acting as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 23.
Throughout the entire season, the coaches talked trash, threatened each other and, once filming was complete, the two reportedly came to blows in the UFC gym. Will the emotions of fighting a person she hates get in the way of her gameplan when they finally lock horns next week in the main event of the “TUF 23” Finale? Gadelha doesn’t think so.
“I’m very well prepared for this fight,” Gadelha said this week during a UFC media conference call. “The mind games happen always outside of the cage, but once they close the Octagon, I am fighting for my life. I am not thinking about anything outside the cage.”
Gadelha has had a burning desire to smash Jedrzejczyk’s face for numerous reasons, most of which is that Gadelha believes in her heart that she won their first encounter.
“I am very motivated, not just because I am fighting for the title, but because I have wanted that opportunity to fight her again,” Gadelha stated. “I have seen our first fight 300 times and I don’t know how they gave that fight to her. Yes, she knocked me down in the first and I can see why they would give her that first round, but I won the second and third. That is the only loss on my record, and I am going to make sure I beat her.”
When asked why she dislikes Jedrzejczyk so much and what it was, exactly, that bred those feelings, the Brazilian was candid.
“Joanna always disrespects her opponents,” Gadelha said. “I have been fighting for my life for 12, 13 years. Now, I am fighting the best of the best and this is on International Fight Week. I never had a rival (like this). I grew up in the BJJ world in Brazil and I learned how to respect my opponents and their coaches. I don’t think she grew up like that and it bothered me.
“I respect her as a fighter but not as a person.”