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Joanna Jedrzejczyk on TUF rivalry: ‘I’m sorry that you saw Bully Joanna’

LAS VEGAS -- Joanna Jedrzejczyk's starring role on The Ultimate Fighter did not come without controversy.

The popular UFC strawweight champion drew criticism early in the season for her aggressive approach towards rival coach Claudia Gadelha. Jedrzejczyk has a long and contentious history with Gadelha dating back their first fight in late 2014, which Jedrzejczyk won via split decision. That animosity carried over into TUF 23 in a major way, with Jedrzejczyk getting into dust ups with both Gadelha and her assistant coaches.

Ahead of the pair's rematch at Friday's season finale, Jedrzejczyk expressed regret for the way she represented herself on the show, but acknowledged that she would not change how things went down with Gadelha.

"The Ultimate Fighter, it all was real," Jedrzejczyk said. "Like, I was not playing. But I can say, I cannot like blame the TUF production, Claudia Gadelha, or myself. I said what I said and I did what I did, but the thing is that in our regular life we accept some people and some of the people we don't accept, so definitely Claudia Gadelha is the person who I do not accept and that's all. I know that she wants to take my belt, my life, my dreams, my goals away from me. I cannot let her do this, and that's why I was acting like this.

"Sometimes you cannot help it, but I was real, and I'm sorry that you saw Bully Joanna, but it's me. When I must fight for myself, for my dreams, my goals, my life, I will be tougher than her."

Rumblings have persisted since filming wrapped that the tension between Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha grew so heated by the end of the season that the two rivals brawled as soon as the cameras turned off, with Gadelha even throwing a head kick at Jedrzejczyk. Jedrzejczyk, though, brushed off the scuffle.

"Oh, come on," Jedrzejczyk scoffed. "I have almost 100 Muay Thai fights, so I used to train and fight with really tough kickers. And so she didn't kick me. She was trying to kick me, but it's all over. It's all about the fight, the upcoming fight on Friday, and that's all I'm focused on."

Either way, the rivalry will be settled soon. Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha meet on July 8 at MGM Grand Garden Arena, running things back 19 months after they fought to the controversial split decision that propelled Jedrzejczyk into the title picture.

That first meeting was easily the closest anyone has come to beating Jedrzejczyk under the UFC umbrella, and Jedrzejczyk appeared ready to put the rivalry to bed for good, then move on to greater challenges.

"For myself, I'm still little Joanna from the hood," Jedrzejczyk said, "from a small town in Poland, and I'm still having my goals, my dreams. Maybe some people think that it's all about the hype, about the fame, but it's not. It's all about being the best. It's all about challenging myself everyday. I want to be the best. I have my goals, my dreams.

"I want to be undefeated and I want to retire as undefeated. Maybe I will hold two belts in the future. Maybe it'll happen next year. I don't know, but I know that Claudia Gadelha is the person who I must keep doing what I am doing (against) to make all my dreams and goals come true."

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