Joanna Jedrzejczyk suffered some serious damage in her last Octagon appearance.
Despite the physical results of her epic collision with Zhang Weili at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 248 in March 2020 (watch highlights), Jedrzejczyk doesn’t place Zhang among her top two hardest-hitting opponents.
On the contrary, spot No. 1 goes to an old American Top Team (ATT) teammate, while the second belongs to Zhang’s recent successor, Rose Namajunas.
“I think Rose,” Jedrzejczyk responded on the Punchin’ In podcast when asked who hits harder between Namajunas and Zhang. “In the second fight, I felt she was hitting pretty hard. But, you know who hit the hardest? Valerie Letourneau. She was the hardest puncher I ever fought. Valerie ... then Rose.
“They were only talking about her grappling, but I really think [Rose’s] striking is top-level,” she continued. “Very precise, good timing, and very, very strong. No, [Weili did not feel very strong]. Same with [Jessica] Andrade. It only looks strong, you know?”
Namajunas ended Jedrzejczyk’s legendary 115-pound strawweight title reign in Nov. 2017. As a five-time defending champion, Jedrzejczyk was granted an instant rematch, which led to her suffering a second defeat to “Thug.” Like Jedrzejczyk, Zhang has also come up short to Namajunas on two back-to-back occasions.
UFC 261 in April 2021 acted as a historic moment for Namajunas when knocking out Zhang in round one. She became the first woman to win a UFC title twice and has since defended it once more in a rematch with Zhang at UFC 268 in Nov. 2021.
The bout was a much closer outing than the first as Namajunas picked up a split decision. While many arguments have been made for either combatant, Jedrzejczyk believes the judges got the scores right on that fateful night in Madison Square Garden.
“Weili Zhang doesn’t know how to stand up, bring the fight back [up],” Jedrzejczyk said. “She doesn’t know how to grapple at a good level, I feel like.”
Jedrzejczyk’s UFC tenure dates back to July 2014 and has seen her go 10-4 (16-4 overall). We’re coming up on two years since the all-time great will have had a fight, though partially been by design.
The 34-year-old former champion has one fight remaining on her UFC contract and the hope is that it winds up being one of decent importance.
“At the end of the year, I told them I would love to be back by the end of March,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I told them I was planning to be back here to the gym. But I need some time with my coaches, teammates, all of you guys. And I can’t complain. All the girls from one to 10 are booked. It was my decision to not fight for such a long time. I’m just training and waiting. I think we’re just going to get the big fights, that’s it.”