Joanna Jedrzejczyk followed up an incredible performance Saturday night with a surprising turn of events.
The UFC strawweight champion departed the UFC 211 post-fight press conference early when asked about her wrestling coach, Kami Barzini, leaving her American Top Team gym. Jedrzejczyk clearly became emotional and left the dais, leaving the room in a silence.
On Monday, Jedrzejczyk explained why she did that on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, the same reporter who asked the question Saturday night.
Jedrzejczyk said she hadn’t spoken or talked about Barzini leaving much before her fight with Jessica Andrade, because she wanted to focus on her training and not be distracted. But it all hit her Saturday night, seemingly every bit as hard as Andrade did.
“It’s amazing how he changed my wrestling, how he changed my takedown defense,” Jedrzejczyk said. “You can see that in my last fight. That’s the thing. I’d like to work with him. And he’s such a good person. He’s a master of wrestling — he’s my master. But he’s like such a good spirit. He’s like a doctor.
“Before this fight, he said I’m like a lion. I felt like a lion.”
Jedrzejczyk beat Andrade by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-45) in a complete performance. She avoided Andrade’s power and stuffed her takedowns. When she was taken down, Jedrzejczyk got right back up and resumed picking the Brazilian slugger apart on the feet.
Jedrzejczyk, 29, said in years past she would see Lawler and Barzini at UFC events and Barzini would always say one day she should move to American Top Team. Last year, it finally happened. Jedrzejczyk made the move to Coconut Creek, Fla., leaving behind her fiancé and family in Poland. She believed she found the right fit, with coaches like Barzini, Mike Brown and Katel Kubis. Jedrzejczyk called it the best decision she’s made in her career.
“It’s not just about the work,” Jedrzejczyk said. “They really take care of me. They’re with me all the time. They ask me how I feel after the training, before the training. We hang out together.”
After she left the press conference, Jedrzejczyk said she went back to her room and had a talk with Barzini. It was “amazing,” she said, and she’s hoping to continue working with him in the future even if he’ll no longer be at ATT.
“Good people connect with good people and this is what happened with us,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Maybe I’m the baddest chick on the planet, maybe I’m the baddest woman in the Octagon, but I’m definitely emotional. I believe in people so badly and I love when people treat me the same way. It’s not just about the money.”
Jedrzejczyk (14-0) has come a long way since debuting in the UFC in 2014. She’s arguably the best female fighter in the world and has won eight straight under the UFC banner. Jedrzejczyk is lauded as perhaps the best technical striker in the promotion, male or female.
But it’s not all about that in-cage excellence and Jedrzejczyk made that abundantly clear Saturday night.
“It’s all about the right relationships with people,” she told Helwani. “To all of you, remember — one day you can be a champion, you can be the richest person in the world, you can be the boss or the director of some big company, but remember the next day you can be at the beginning again. So, respect people and it’s all about the right relationships.”