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Joanna Jedrzejczyk on why she turned down Weili Zhang three times before title capture: ‘She needed me’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Joanna Jedrzejczyk believes a victory over Michelle Waterson on Oct. 12 will be enough to secure her a title shot against Weili Zhang, but she admitted that she turned down three offers to fight the Chinese champion before she claimed the strawweight crown.

The former champion recalled how she predicted that Zhang would defeat Andrade to claim the title in Shenzhen the day before the main event took place.

“The day before this fight happened between [Jessica] Andrade and [Weili] Zhang, I said that this fight was going to end in the first round and I put my money on Zhang,” Jedrzejczyk told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.

“I know how strong Jessica Andrade is, and I was surprised by how big Weili Zhang is. Jessica Andrade is kind of short but she’s very muscular; she’s a big girl for the strawweight division, but Weili Zhang is very strong, she has big guns. When I saw Jessica training ahead of the fight on her social media, I was really not impressed. I was like, ‘Oh sh*t if she really wants to defend the belt she should be put in more,’ but she didn’t do that.”

Zhang’s title shot against Andrade came out of left field for many fans and media members, and Jedrzejczyk admitted that she turned down fight offers for Zhang as she felt it would have sidetracked her from getting her hands back on the championship title she had previously held.

“She’s good, but the truth is they offered me Weili Zhang three times before that fight and the thing is, she needed me. Okay, she’s the champ now so it might look like she never needed me to become someone. Sometimes people are like, ‘Do you know who she is now?’ Of course I know who she is, but I fight in the Octagon, you know? I’m a professional athlete, I’m a businesswoman and I know who I am. I don’t do fights on Twitter. If [others fighters] call me out, I like it because I know I am in a strong position. Why are they calling me out? Because they know I can bring them to a different level. Maybe they can be lucky and win against former UFC champion, a dominant champion, which I was. [That would allow them to] get better money, get better exposure. Of course, they offered me Weili Zhang, but my goal was to fight for the belt. I took my spot, now I’m fighting Waterson and then I will go for the belt. Slowly, step-by-step, I will reach my goals and my dreams,” she said.

“The thing is, there is a new UFC Performance Institute in China, so they probably needed a good fight and they just gave the title fight to this Chinese chick. She won, good for her; I’m very happy for her. I think she’s very strong, she’s very dynamic and she’s a good puncher. I hope she’s going to be a good champ for the UFC and the division before I face her.”

The Polish striking supremo also shared her thoughts on Zhang claiming that she “wasn’t as good” as when she was champion in an interview the newly-crowned champion conducted in Abu Dhabi in her capacity as a guest fighter at UFC 242.

“You all should ask her why she was calling me out,” said Jedrzejczyk. “These girls think they can talk when they have the strap, they talk whatever sh*t they want to talk when you are losing, Look at how many of them wanted to call me out when I lost to Rose, they were like, ‘Now we can beat Joanna because she lost’. When I was a dominant champion, they were trying to get the belt, but nobody could keep the pace with me when they faced me. They can talk whatever they want, I’m too classy and too serious for all that bullsh*t.”

Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Joanna Jedrzejczyk interview begins at 13:30.

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