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Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Carla Esparza showed 'everyone that she's afraid of me'

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Joanna Jedrzejczyk isn't fazed by the moment. Ahead of the biggest mixed martial arts fight of her career on Saturday at UFC 185 opposite women's strawweight champion Carla Esparza, Jedrzejczyk says, yes, there's been more attention, more media and more to do to promote the fight. Yet, none of that seems to affect her. In fact, she doesn't mind it at all.

"Yeah, I feel good. I'm acting normally like always. Like everyday," she tells Ariel Helwani, from Monday's The MMA Hour. "I'm not those kind of persons that's afraid to be on radio or TV, you know? I'm always the same."

Still, it's not clear who that 'same' person is. Is it the affable, smiling Jedrzejczyk we see in media interviews? Or is it the fearsome striker turned top contender we see in the cage?

Maybe it's the one who ice grills her opponents during weigh-ins, getting directly in their face to make sure there's eye contact and a message is sent, a practice she picked up after being insulted by a previous opponent.

"It's because of some Suriname girl," she explains. "I fought her in Suriname and that's why. She say that I'm little girl, she gonna beat me and this and that. She was kind of short. Then at the weigh-in, I went down, looking into her eyes because she didn't want to look into my eyes. I bring her eyes into mine. It stays like this. It shows they cannot play with me."

More than likely, despite being compartmentalized, Jedrzejczyk is all of those things: pleasant but fierce outside of the cage, ferocious and determined within it.

But like she says, no matter all the new cameras or requests for interviews, Jedrzejczyk is the same. She's taking that view of herself and her challenge in Esparza heading into Saturday's bout. As tough as Esparaza is - something Jedrzejczyk has no problems admitting - there isn't a hint of uncertainty in her voice when she discusses what will happen in their contest.

"She's a champion," Jedrzejczyk concedes. "She can be a little bit afraid, but you know it's going to be a pretty tough fight for us. But I'm ready for it. I want to win all war."

Jedrzejczyk believes a recent face off between the two tells the story about how things will go. The Polish strawweight held up her finger to signal she was the best fighter, which, in turn, prompted Esparza to do the same. This, Jedrzejczyk claims, is evidence Esparza is mentally affected.

"I show to her that I am number one and she didn't. She showed the finger because I did it. She wasn't honest with us," she insists. "You did it because I did it. She showed to everyone that she's afraid of me."

Jedrzejczyk certainly has cause to be confident. Two fights into her UFC tenure, she's won them both and is still undefeated in her MMA career. Moreover, she got to where she is despite never having been a part of the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter, something she says she doesn't regret missing.

"I did some choices at the beginning of last year, 2014, and I think I did well. I'm here and I'm ready for the title. I'm happy with it, that I wasn't in TUF," Jedrzejczyk confesses.

As for Saturday where she'll face a champion who did emerge from that show, Jedrzejczyk isn't moved by much. She's going to compete how she normally does, without too much concern for what else could happen.

"No, I do not," she says about whether she watches tape. "My trainers do that. I watch her fight once, but that's all. I have my own game plan, of course, everything's gonna change in the Octagon, but we gonna play my game. I will try to keep on doing my things. Of course, we did some game plan.

"My wrestling and grappling is better than before," she adds. "Much better."

But wait, wouldn't she want to say her abilities are better than Esparza's? Not for Jedrzejczyk, it appears. She has no doubt about the outcome, but is utterly at peace with the process, who she is and what that means for her chance at success.

Being truthful about the strength of her opponent - even when she thinks that very opponent is afraid - is just part of being Jedrzejczyk: the same everyday.

"I'm not going to say that because I know she's great athlete, so I do not have big mouth. If I gonna win, I can say this after the fight, but not now.

"I can expect what's gonna happen," she notes, "but you never know."

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