Joanna Jedrzejczyk is never one to mince words. The former women’s strawweight champion is preparing to take on Valentina Shevchenko in the co-main event of UFC 231 in Toronto on Dec. 8, but while doing so, has had to deal with some side talk about her past.
Jedrzejczyk (15-2) first got her start in fighting with Muay Thai competitions, where she met Shevchenko in a tournament. Shevchenko, who beat Jedrzejczyk both times she faced her, claims that those losses are still affecting the former champion.
“She can say that it’s not affecting her, but yes, it’s affecting her,” Shevchenko said during a media luncheon this week. “Fighters can say whatever, but what they are feeling inside, it’s totally different.
“Of course, it was years ago, and she improved as a fighter, same as me. I’m a mixed martial arts fighter. But at the end of the day, all experience will help. And experience I got from that fight, it will help me to win this fight.”
Jedrzejczyk vehemently disagrees with Shevchenko’s sentiment.
“Of course it does not affect me. It was 10 years ago. I faced Valentina Shevchenko in 2006 after two years of training only. I went to Thailand for Muay Thai World Championships and I faced her in the first bout, and it’s a tournament bout, so you lose and you’re out,” Jedrzejczyk told CBS Sports. “That time, I felt that I was going to win gold, but I realize how much work was behind me. I was looking forward to becoming better and better athlete.
“She has been training since she was a little girl, I know this time it’s going to be different. This time, I’m a different animal, different athlete, different person, very strong physically, mentally, fighting in the best organization in the world and I’m ready, I will get this belt home. I can see how I’m improving with every camp in a new weight, in a new division.”
Jedrzejczyk bounced back from back-to-back losses against Rose Namajunas with a decision win over Tecia Torres in July. She now looks to add a second division title to her resume and become the first woman in UFC to accomplish the feat.