Joanna Jedrzejczyk brought her A game to Kallang, Singapore, for UFC 275 last night (Sat., June 11, 2022) inside Singapore Indoor Stadium; however, it wasn’t enough to stop a surging Weili Zhang from dominating her in the first round and knocking her out in the second with a spinning back fist (watch the finish here).
Following the defeat, an emotional Jedrzejczyk laid her gloves down in the ring and announced she was retiring from the sport. She closes out her career at 16-5 in mixed martial arts (MMA), 10-5 UFC with five successful Strawweight title defenses and 10 title fights. In kickboxing and Muay Thai, she went 27-3 and was the IFMA World Championship gold medalist five years in a row.
At the UFC 275 post-fight press conference (watch it here), an emotional Jedrzejczyk gave an update on her health and broke down the knockout loss to Zhang. She also tried to sum up her feelings on retirement and her legacy.
“Bells are still ringing in my head,” she said. “Good. Not bad. A few bruises. I got kicked to the back of the head and I have a big bruise, but all good, man.
“I just saw, felt, saw getting closer to the mat and I was really hurt, bells ringing in my head and I didn’t know what happened that time,” she continued. “And I knew I was KO’d and I was like okay, it’s all over. Don’t hurry because you’re going to fall. So it was good, you know? In the middle of the road before I hit the Octagon, I was sober already.”
Zhang’s wrestling was the big surprise to Jedrzejczyk.
“Of course, she’s been training with [Henry] Cejudo so we were expecting it, but she was really, really, really strong, you know?” Jedrzejczyk said. “More strong than in our first fight. And you know how it is with the ground game, right? I do lots of jiu-jitsu and I proved that. You have to take time and not make mistakes. There is no room for mistakes so I was trying to stay calm. Of course she was landing these elbows and punches, but I was focused on bringing the fight up.
“I just got caught,” she added. “It’s not easy to win a fight like this. We all wish for fast KOs, it’s the perfect plan for every fight. But it’s more difficult to stand up for three or five rounds. It is what it is, I got caught but it was a good one. She got me.
“She’s so strong — so strong. She really surprised me with her strength,” she added later. “Because we know she’s a striker, but she was very strong on the ground. Very beautiful work. I truly believe that Weili will become the champ and I think Rose is next in line again. It’s the beauty of the sport.”
Asked whether she had retirement in the back of her mind if she lost at UFC 275, Jedrzejczyk said, “No.”
“It was just a moment,” she said. “Of course, I had it in the back of my head, maybe there was one day a year ago where maybe if something happened I might retire. I’ve been in this business for the last 19 years and lots of investment from myself. And yeah, it’s time to fully enjoy my life.”
“I approach so much and honestly, I had no time to sit on it and think about my legacy, how big it is. And I’m a hard worker and I always dedicate myself and I give as much as I can and get as much as I can in the same way. But, now it’s time to fully enjoy it, spend some time with my family. I started traveling since I was 17, I used to live in Thailand, Holland. In the States it’s been years from the time I moved to the States. I’ve been on the road and I’ve been doing this for most of my life. So, now it’s time to fully enjoy it.
“Even with this loss, I’ve been preparing so hard and that’s the crazy thing,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I want people to look at the athletes that are winning or losing as hard workers. People don’t see the preparation, people see only the win or lose in this sport. It was hard. Up and downs. It’s been a roller coaster. But I want people to know that anything, everything is possible. Doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, what color your skin. What religion you believe in, what your gender is. You can make it.
“From small city in Poland I was dreaming about the trip to the United States as a small girl, every time I closed my eyes I saw a panorama of Manhattan,” she added. “A few years later my picture was hanging in Times Square before UFC 205. Dreams are coming true, but we have to work hard and really believe. I’m proud of myself. I need a few days off, but it’s good. Going to party after tomorrow, so gonna have some fun. Have some ‘Kiev Mule,’ no more ‘Moscow Mule,’ gonna have Neapolitan pizza in a few hours so life is good.”
Joanna confirmed that she planned on continuing to be a presence in the sport, potentially as a manager.
“I plan on going for International Fight Week, and London, and Paris,” she said. “And be around. In the future I want to be the best manager I can be. Learning from the best. Jennifer Goldstein, CAA combat sports, Dan Lambert, the owner of [American Top Team]. I want to be around. Yeah, I just want to be around. Rose, let’s get some training!”
Reacting to Dana White’s words of support following her retirement, Jedrzejczyk said, “I love them. I love every single person working for the UFC. So many people don’t see this, but we can perform because of them. And I care about every single person, about their families. We lost two, like [Suzy Friton]. But, I love all of them. I will miss them so much, but I’ll see them around. It’s been an honor for me, but I’ll be a UFC soldier forever. I said so many years ago that I was going to retire in the UFC and it’s happening today.
“I always want to be remembered as one of the greatest and I will,” Jedrzejczyk concluded. “I’m just the girl from the hood. J.J. from the hood. I did big things. Quite big. I have to sit and think about what I have achieved. I bought a nice apartment maybe two years ago. Do you know how many times I was there? None. Like maybe I slept there two nights. Now I have time to fully enjoy it. I’ll go there, spend some time, sit on it and enjoy it.”
“Everything is possible ... everything and anything is possible.”
For complete UFC 275: “Jiri vs. Teixeira” results and play-by-play, click HERE.