Two championships will be decided at the top of the fight card at UFC 275 on Saturday night, but perhaps the most intriguing battle in Singapore will feature two former champions looking to earn a shot at their old title.
Both Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili have held the UFC women’s strawweight title. But both saw their respective title reigns halted by Rose Namajunas, and now they’re set to face off in a bid to get back to the top of the division.
Their bout is a rematch of their epic championship clash at UFC 248 that saw Zhang retain the title via split decision after one of the UFC’s all-time great title fights.
Many viewed the bout as a de-facto title eliminator, but after UFC president Dana White confirmed that status on the matchup, Jedrzejczyk said that stipulation was known when she signed her bout agreement.
“I knew about that,” she told reporters ahead of fight night in Singapore.
“I would not sign agreement for this fight if I didn’t know that I was going to be next after winning on Sunday. So yeah, I knew that and I’m not surprised. It’s good. I feel like we both deserve it.”
Both women watched with interest as Namajunas lost her title to Carla Esparza via split decision at UFC 274. It was an outcome few predicted ahead of time, and the result caught Jedrzejczyk off guard, too.
“It’s surprising what happened in the fight between Rose and Carla. But it is what it is, you know?”
This weekend Jedrzejczyk will be making her first appearance in the octagon since that narrow loss to Zhang in March 2020.
Despite being away from the cage for more than two years, the Pole said she never fully stepped away from the sport, and will come back refreshed and ready for another run at the title.
“Yeah, I always tell people that you can never stop, you know? You can slow down, but you can never stop. So I slowed down,” she explained.
“I was training every single day. But I just haven’t fought, you know? I had things to do, because I’m full of life, full of passion, hobbies, things to do. And I had no time because of I was very active in the octagon. But you know, you don’t know how much time is left in my your life.”
A lengthy layoff meant a tougher training camp, but the fighter known to the fans as “Joanna Champion” hopes to return with a bang as she looks to make good that moniker once again.
“I knew that after this long break, I was going to have to prepare longer,” she admitted.
“And this is what I’ve done with my team at American Top Team and I’m very, very proud of myself, (and) the team.”