Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk retired from mixed martial arts (MMA) in the wake of her second-round knockout loss at the UFC 275 pay-per-view (PPV) event last Sat. night (June 11, 2022) at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore, bringing an end to an illustrious career inside the Octagon.
Watch Zhang Weili send her into retirement right here.
Like Ronda Rousey before her, the Polish piston played a key role in bringing women’s cagefighting to the mainstream, legitimizing the newly-created strawweight division with a 115-pound title reign that spanned six fights across two and a half years. Along the way she captured four post-fight performance bonuses, three of them for “Fight of the Night.”
Not too shabby.
“I’m retired guys, thank you so much, I love you guys, thank you for the opportunity,” Jedrzejczyk said after her loss to Weili. “It’s been 20 years. I’m turning 35 this year. I want to be a mom. I want to be a businesswoman. I’ve been training two decades, more than half of my life. I love you guys.”
Jedrzejczyk, now 34, is one of the most important fighters of the last decade.
Is she a “legend” of the game? That may depend on your criteria (or your definition of the word). I’m just not sure the numbers support such a claim. Jedrzejczyk is 10-5 under the UFC banner (16-5 overall) but eight of those wins have come by way of decision and the former Muay Thai champion has not scored a knockout in nearly seven years.
On top of that, Jedrzejczyk is 0-4 with two knockout losses against former champions Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas, two of the best in the world at 115 pounds. Her attempt to move up to flyweight and capture the 125-pound crown — while also avenging her previous (and non-UFC) losses to division champion Valentina Shevchenko — also ended in defeat.
Not exactly a legendary run.
Remember, this is not an attempt to discredit anything Jedrzejczyk has done in her UFC career. It’s been a great one with a collection of must-see fights (like this one). But we have a tendency to play fast and loose with those “legend” labels and ridiculous “G.O.A.T.” debates. Jedrzejczyk is not the greatest of all time.
She’s not even the greatest of her division.
Outside of that, I’m not sure we can legitimately talk about “all time” with a weight class that has only been in existence for seven years. Are we that desperate for heroes? I guess being a distinguished champion with an impressive record isn’t good enough anymore, or perhaps it’s a way to gloss over her 2-5 finish after her perfect 8-0 start in UFC.
That’s why many of her division records, like winning streak (8) and title fight wins (6) are likely to fall. When strawweight was first created, the promotion had whatever fighters were carried over from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 plus a couple of imports from Invicta FC and beyond. The division will continue to grow as more (and better) talent is added.
If Jedrzejczyk’s numbers hold steady over the next five or 10 years, then perhaps a “legend” label will be more appropriate. But I’m not sure her current status as charismatic “fan favorite” is enough for that title, particularly in the absence of victories over Namajunas or Weili. Maybe that will change in the near future, since retirements never seem to stick these days, regardless of division (or gender).
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