After months of seething tension, UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk will finally be able to get her hands on Claudia Gadelha next week when they square off in the main event of “The Ultimate Fighter 23” Finale in Las Vegas.
The two women have a very public feud that has been brewing since Jedrzejczyk edged Gadelha via split decision almost two years ago. Both believe they won the fight, and with every chance they get, verbal barbs and shoving ensues.
The amount of animosity between Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha is similar to other nasty rivalries in MMA, though Jedrzejczyk says it is unique to her.
“You can see that I didn’t have any with any of my other opponents, even in my staredowns,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I’m having this problem with Claudia and I can’t wait to fight her again. I am going to show you and her that I am the best. She always says that she won the first fight, blah blah blah. I am going to prove to her that I am the best. She knows she lost our first fight, and she’s going to lose our second fight.”
Being too emotional or angry in battle can lead to costly mistakes, so how does Jedrzejczyk plan on keeping things in check so she can retain her title on July 8?
“I have no emotions about upcoming fight,” she said. “I had a really good camp. I am going to go in there and do my job. I’m just focusing on the fight and not stuff outside of the cage. I had more motivation during the preparations for my fight with Claudia. I put in a lot of work and I feel ready to go.”
Taking care of Gadelha -- whom Jedrzejczyk admits that she respects as a fighter and nothing more -- isn’t the only thing on the Polish fighter’s mind. Jedrzejczyk has her eyes on another prize, though it’s something that doesn’t exist quit yet. Already considered the best in the world at 115 pounds, “Joanna Champion” has eyes on making history in another division.
“I want to be the first female fighter to hold the belt in two different weight classes in the UFC,” she declared, angling for the chance to compete for the as-yet-inexistent UFC women’s flyweight championship.
Joanne Calderwood recently toppled Valerie Letourneau in the UFC’s first women’s duel at 125 pounds, and Jedrzejczyk thinks it’s just a matter of time before that becomes a full-fledged division.
“I think we need that division because bantamweights can go down and strawweights can come up,” said Jedrzejczyk. “I think the UFC should do this move. I used to compete at 125. I don’t have a big problem with the (straw)weight division or making weight, (but) it’s good for all of us.”
If and when the UFC decides to establish a 125-pound division for women, Jedrzejczyk will no doubt be standing at the front of the line when a title is birthed. It wouldn’t be surprising if Gadelha -- the Joe Frazier to Jedrzejczyk’s Muhammad Ali -- is there in her face, too.