A broken hand forced Joanna Jedrzejczyk to take a longer layoff than she would have liked between title defenses.
There was no sign of cage rust however, as the Polish strawweight queen retained her belt in impressive fashion at "The Ultimate Fighter 23” finale. While her first meeting with Claudia Gadelha at UFC on Fox 13 was a contentious split-decision triumph, Jedrzejczyk improved upon that performance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Friday night, taking over down the stretch for a much clearer unanimous verdict.
The fight wasn’t without some adversity. Gadelha dropped her foe with a jab in an early exchange and attempted to grind away with clinch work and takedowns. That approach was for successful for two rounds, but Jedrzejczyk began to find openings for her deadly standup over the final 15 minutes.
“We were ready for really tough fight. We felt that she might get tired in the third, fourth and fifth rounds,” Jedrzejczyk said. “So I was waiting for my chance. She took me down, but I felt like she couldn’t do anything on the ground. I didn’t feel like she could submit me.”
Now that Jedrzejczyk owns a pair of victories over the division’s No. 1 ranked contender, she is uncertain what the future holds in terms of new challengers. She does, however, have a venue in mind for her next fight.
“For me Claudia Gadelha is one of the best strawweights in the UFC. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “I know that I want to fight in New York. I don’t know who is going to be my next opponent.”
Jedrzejczyk is now unbeaten in 12 fights, including six UFC appearances. That said, she still doesn’t believe she is ready to assume the No. 1 position in the women’s pound-for-pound rankings.
“I don’t know. I’m waiting for Ronda Rousey. For me she’s still the No. 1, and she deserves to be the No. 1,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Believe me guys she will be back, soon.”
Soon enough, the strawweight champion seems to think, to compete with her at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 12. There has been no official word of a Rousey return as of yet, but Jedrzejczyk enjoyed sharing a card with “Rowdy” at UFC 193 last year and would like to do it again.
“There is a big Polish community [in New York]. I know this show in New York is going to be big and epic. I did great job with Ronda Rousey in Melbourne,” she said. “So I like to challenge myself. I really want to fight in New York. I was off for eight months. I don’t like long breaks but I had broken hand. Before I fought Valerie Letourneau, I fought five times in 15 months. When I fought muay Thai I fought every month.”
While Jedrzejczyk has previously expressed a desire to become the promotion’s first 125-pound champion, she is more concerned about defending the strawweight belt one more time before the conclusion of 2016. After that, she will explore the possibility of breaking ground in a new division.
“I want to defend my title one more time at 115 this year,” she said. “Then I will see and think about anything. We will see how this division will grow and when it will show up.”