LOS ANGELES — Despite losing twice in convincing fashion to UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, Joanna Jedrzejczyk refuses to admit the woman who took her title and won the rematch is the better fighter.
“No way I’ll say Rose is the best,” Jedrzejczyk said after defeating Tecia Torres at last week’s UFC on FOX 30 post-fight press conference. “Maybe you beat me, you’re the champion and you won. But your legacy isn’t that big. You should bow down, because I am the queen.”
While Namajunas hasn’t publicly responded to the former champ’s words, Pat Barry isn’t shy about speaking up. The former UFC knockout artist, who is both Namajunas’ coach and fiancé, respects Jedrzejczyk’s talent, but believes her inability to accept defeat — both against Namajunas, and to top contender Valentina Shevchenko in kickboxing — is curbing her potential for further growth as a fighter.
“I think that Joanna is f*cking herself over by not accepting defeat,” Barry told MMA Fighting at Thursday’s UFC 227 media day. “That’s why she lost to Valentina three times. Lost the first time, she got robbed. Lost the second time, she got robbed. Lost the third time. Knockout to Rose, wasn’t her fault. Lost a decision, wasn’t her fault. She wants to fight Rose again. She’s not going to be able to. It’s still going to be Rose.”
Barry can draw on his own experiences from the ups and downs of his kickboxing and MMA careers to know that you can learn as much from losing a fight and correcting your mistakes than you might if you never have to make adjustments.
But in Jedrzejczyk, he sees a fighter who has gotten comfortable with her style and hit a plateau.
“You can grow from losing,” said Barry, who will corner JJ Aldrich for her main-card fight with Polyana Viana on Saturday night. “If you’re not going to grow from that, how are you going to get better? It’s not her fault that anything ever want wrong in her life. It’s everyone else’s fault but hers.
“Honestly, as good as Joanna is — she’s a f*cking fantastic athlete, she’s a dominant athlete, one of the best female fighters to ever live, ever — if she accepted the responsibility for it, how much better would she get? How much better would she be if she accepted it, worked on making some changes? How much better would she be? But she’s been so dominant for so long, I don’t think she’s going to make any changes.”
Barry went on to compare Jedrzejczyk, whose two-year strawweight title reign was the second-most dominant women’s UFC title run behind Ronda Rousey’s memorable stretch as bantamweight champ, to another fighter who dominated right up until the point he didn’t anymore: The legendary Fedor Emelianenko.
“If you think about it, when Joanna came out and fought Carla [Esparza] and beat Carla, that’s the same Joanna that fought Rose. She hasn’t advanced. She’s the same fighter. She hasn’t gotten better. Only thing is she’s gotten in better shape. She’s like Fedor. Fedor came out and killed everybody and no one could handle him for years and years and then eventually everyone caught up and figured him out, because Fedor didn’t get any better. He stayed exactly where he was, and eventually everyone figured him out. Joanna hasn’t gotten better, she’s gotten more in shape. That’s it.”
Jedrzejczyk did, of course, bounce back from her losses to Namajunas with a fine performance against Torres. But that feat alone hasn’t convinced Barry taht she should be next in line for the current champ.
“No, we know Rose is a better fighter,” Barry said. “She beat her twice. There’s no discussion. There’s no discussion. If Joanna is the better fighter, she’d be the champ right now. But she’s not. Rose is. She knocked her out, and then she beat her ass for five rounds.
“Rose wants to fight whoever’s the best. If Joanna is the second best or the next best whoever it is, Rose wants to fight the best. Whoever’s out there. But is she entertaining the idea of fighting Joanna again? Sure, if that’s what comes around. Been there, done that.”