Joanna Jedrzejczyk is one win away from tying the record for most title defenses in UFC women’s history, but does that mean she’s the greatest WMMA fighter of all-time?
Jedrzejczyk’s dominance in the UFC strawweight division is unquestionable. The undefeated Polish star was not part of the reality show that crowned the UFC’s first 115-pound champion, but earned a shot at the gold after defeating Juliana Lima and Claudia Gadelha.
In March 2015, Jedrzejczyk mauled Carla Esparza to win the gold, starting her reign as UFC queen that already lasts two years and five title defenses.
After another one-sided victory at UFC 211, defeating heavy hitter Jessica Andrade in Dallas, Jedrzejczyk is in the discussion for the greatest female fighter ever, but Cris Cyborg, who has dominated her opponents for more than a decade, wouldn’t agree just yet.
"Joanna is a great athlete and an example of what the UFC machine can do in terms of promotion and marketing,” Cyborg told MMA Fighting. “Of my last five fights, three were on Fight Pass. Joanna fought once on Fight Pass, was on the TV show Ultimate Fighter, and she normally fights as co-main event under fighters like (Conor) McGregor and Ronda (Rousey). You can do a lot of marketing over any athlete, but I’m the only athlete, men or women, that finished 90 percent of her fights by knockout."
"Who’s the best MMA fighter of all times, I always left that for fans to decide,” she continued. "Media can influence some fans, but the truth always appears, as it did with the American hero Ronda Rousey."
Cyborg was campaigning to fight UFC featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie at UFC 214 in Anaheim, Calif., on July 29, but is currently “waiting for the UFC to find an opponent for me because they can’t put their champion in the Octagon with me."
The Brazilian star celebrated the anniversary of her UFC debut last week, and is confident that she would've had broken Rousey’s record already if the promotion did things differently since day one.
"My UFC debut was a year ago, but, in reality, I’ve already fought five fights on my UFC contract,” Cyborg said. "If the UFC would’ve given me my belt just like they did with Ronda Rousey, I would have broken the record of title defenses already. I’m undefeated for 10 years and I’m a world champion, to take this title someone has to defeat me.”
It’s still unclear if the former Invicta FC and Strikeforce champion will in fact compete at UFC 214, but she is still 100 percent confident — and willing to fight anyone.
"My next step is to stay focused, training to finish my contract with the UFC,” Cyborg said. "After that, I’ll know what my next steps will be. (…) I want to finish my contract. Whoever they put in front of me, I’ll fight.
"I’d like to fight someone who’s ranked in my weight division, someone like Megan Anderson, but there’s no ranking anymore. To come off a win doesn’t mean you will get the opportunity to fight for the belt."
As for Cat Zingano, who was reported as an option for Cyborg in Anaheim, the Brazilian didn’t sound so interested. But, again, she is open to facing anyone.
"Cat Zingano is a great athlete, she fought at 125, went to 135, (but) her last win was in 2014,” the Brazilian said. "Let’s go, I don’t pick opponents. Whoever comes."
Asked to clarify what she means with “finishing her contract”, Cyborg, whose UFC deal expires in October, explained that her goal is to stay in the company.
"I’d like to stay in the UFC, but working together,” Cyborg said. "I believe I deserve to be respected as an athlete because I’m a pioneer in this sport."