Joanna Jedrzejczyk sorry – but also not – about UFC 231 flyweight title shot
TORONTO – When Nicco Montano was stripped of the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title, Valentina Shevchenko was a shoo-in to fight for the vacant belt.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk, maybe not as much.
The installation of the once-dominant women’s strawweight champion as Shevchenko’s opponent didn’t strike some of her colleagues as fair. Bantamweight veteran Jessica Eye, for one, was vocal in her disapproval during a pre-fight media scrum.
“I think it’s terrible for our weight class,” Eye said. “It messes up the division. If you want these divisions to have true stances, and ‘this is the world title,’ you can’t be mixing people up. … I don’t think it was fair, but who am I? I’m just another flyweight in the division.”
Jedrzejczyk (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC), who’s attempting to avenge a trio of losses to Shevchenko (15-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) in muay Thai, isn’t insensitive to Eye’s point of view.
“I feel sorry,” Jedrzejczyk said when asked about Eye’s comments. “Honestly, I feel sorry. But when you get to the UFC, so many fighters, they’re like, ‘Oh, I reached my goal. I’m the man. I’m the girl.’ Bull(expletive). The hard job is starting here.
“It’s not only about being the best athlete. It is about that, but people must see the charisma, the character. You must really show the people. Be honest with them and show them who you are. Somehow, people like me. And they wanted to see my fight with Valentina. They saw me as a challenger for this title, and here we go.”
She might not be a UFC champion right now, but a belt hasn’t dictated Jedrzejczyk’s opinion of her place in the sport. She still believes she’s the queen of the strawweight division, and her fight with Shevchenko is more than just the end result of favoritism.
“I earned this title shot. That’s it,” she said. “And who’s next? I don’t know. But for sure, if you work hard enough, you will get to this spot where I am now.”