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Joanna Jedrzejczyk: ‘I’m still the champ, even if I don’t have the belt physically’

In this UFC Tampa preview, we’ll take a closer look at Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s quest to reclaim the 115-pound crown.

As far as non-title fights go, they don’t get much bigger than this.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, will battle streaking 115-pound contender, Michelle Waterson, in the UFC Fight Night 161 main event on Sat. night (Oct. 12, 2019) inside Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.

The winner is expected to move on to face Weili Zhang, who captured the crown with a first-round annihilation of then-strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade at UFC Shenzhen. But as far as Jedrzejczyk is concerned, she’s already defeated Waterson AND Zhang.

She has not, however, defeated the weigh-in scale (yet).

“I know I will step into the Octagon with Weili Zhang to fight for the title and I don’t even see her defending the belt once,” Jedrzejczyk told MMA Fighting. “People say to me, ‘but you’re not the champ anymore.’ Bah. I’m not the champ? I’m still the champ, of course I’m the champ. If I don’t have the belt physically, I’m still the champ.”

The arrogance is still coming on strong, as promised.

Jedrzejczyk (15-3) is trying to regain her footing after coming up short in her last three title fights, including an unsuccessful trip up to the flyweight division, where she was summarily expelled by 125-pound deity, Valentina Shevchenko. Unfortunately her latest efforts have been clouded by weight-cutting shenanigans.

Waterson (17-6), meanwhile, is the winner of three straight after her commanding performance against former title contender, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, back in March. The 33- year-old striker stands at 5-2 inside the Octagon, with her two losses coming to Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres.

With the UFC Tampa main event scheduled for five rounds, this could come down to who wants it more. Either way, Zhang will be watching with vested interest.

To see who else is fighting this weekend on ESPN+ click here.

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