Finally healthy and having uprooted her life from Poland to Coconut Creek, FL to train fulltime at American Top Team, the reigning UFC strawweight champion said that she wanted to fight three times in 2017, and that she hopes her Nov. 12 showdown against Kowalkiewicz will mark the beginning of a run that cements her as one of the very best fighters in the sport's history.
"Before, I broke my hand twice and it was not good for me. I had to take a longer break, but now I'm feeling great, so I'm ready to go," Jedrzejczyk said. "I know that I'm not the prettiest one, I'm not having big boobies or I'm not American, but I want people to remember me as the best female fighter, undefeated in MMA, and the UFC champion of the world.
"I want to be a legend. I want people to talk about me in five, 10 years, 20 years, that I was one of the best female MMA fighters, that I was one of the best UFC champions in the world back in the day. This is what I want. I just want to retire as an undefeated champion. This is my goal. This is my dream, and I want to make this dream become (real) life."
Jedrzejczyk, 29, is well on her way to achieving that goal. The undefeated Polish champion has risen from out of nowhere to become one of the most popular and respected fighters in the sport over the last two years. Her reign atop the division began with a ferocious victory over Carla Esparza in early 2015, and Jedrzejczyk has since carved a wide swathe of destruction across the strawweight ranks with convincing title defenses over Jessica Penne, Valerie Letourneau, and Claudia Gadelha.
Jedrzejczyk will look to continue that streak on her biggest stage yet when she meets Kowalkiewicz as a featured part of the UFC's historic first event in New York City next weekend. The show is headlined by three title fights, including a champion versus champion duel between Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez, and is expected to be among the highest-grossing UFC events of all-time.
"Finally, I can make some money, you know?" Jedrzejczyk teased. "I never complain about the money and I'm not going to do this, I'm just joking. I'm very happy that I can fight on 205, that I can fight in New York on the first UFC event in New York. I'm very happy to fight on the same card with Conor McGregor, with Eddie, with Tyron (Woodley), with Stephen (Thompson) and with the other fighters.
"This card is an amazing card, so I'm very happy. It's a pleasure for me. Like I said, I want to be part of the biggest UFC shows ever. My dream is to fight in Poland, but next year. Now it's time to build myself in the U.S. more. I got lots of attention after my fight with Claudia, so now I'm ready to take over the UFC shows."
The upcoming collision in New York will actually be the second time that Jedrzejczyk and Kowalkiewicz have locked horns inside the cage. The two compatriots first fought five years ago in an amateur fight in their native Poland, with Jedrzejczyk winning the match via first-round rear-naked choke.
Jedrzejczyk noted on Wednesday that it was crazy to see how far the two have come in such a short amount of time, and both she and Kowalkiewicz agreed that UFC 205 will be an extraordinary moment in Polish MMA history.
"It's going to be a really beautiful morning for Polish fans," Jedrzejczyk said. "Because in Poland it's going to be very early, Nov. 13, when we are going to fight in New York. So it's a big deal. I love my country. Even though I moved to Florida, I'm still Polish. I love my city and I'm doing this for them, so I'm representing my country, even though I must face Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
"We fought in 2012; it was my first or second amateur fight, same with her, so I know that she's a different fighter. She proved that she can join the UFC. She had three fights, she won against Rose (Namajunas), who was supposed to be my next challenger, but I'm happy for Karolina, for all of us, for Polish MMA. This is going to be a historical moment for female MMA in Poland, and for MMA in Poland."
If Jedrzejczyk is able to continue her winning ways and emerge victorious at UFC 205, it would mark the fourth consecutive title defense for "Joanna Champion."
That number would keep her second behind Demetrious Johnson in terms of active UFC championship reigns, but Jedrzejczyk disagreed with the notion that she is even close to accomplishing her goals of clearing out the division.
"There are so many (contenders)," Jedrzejczyk said. "The strawweight division may be the lightest division in the UFC, but we are very tough fighters. Like my last fight with Claudia Gadelha on July 8 in Vegas, (it) was pretty tough, and I know that I put a really big dot on an ‘i.'
"People said so many times that there nobody who can take this belt away from me, but it isn't true. I'm trying to stay humble. This camp was even harder than before the fight with Claudia Gadelha, so definitely, I'm focused. I keep my eyes open and I train very hard because there is lots of talent in this division. So definitely, this fight with Karolina, it's a big challenge for me. But I will win this fight and you're going to be surprised how I'm going to win this fight."