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Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Relationship turmoil a factor in recent losses

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Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In her recent win over Michelle Waterson this past October, Joanna Jedrzejczyk looked like her old self. And according to the former UFC strawweight champion, there’s a good reason for that.

“Life of a single [woman],” Jedrzejczyk said with a laugh on a recent episode of UFC Unfiltered. “People in Poland know more, but people in the states and worldwide, they don’t know much about my private life. The last two years were pretty difficult for me. It was a rough time, and I feel like 2019 is a special year, so I can’t wait for 2020.”

Jedrzejczyk said the deterioration of her relationship with her now ex-fiance factored into the loss of her title and her subsequent struggles.

“I broke up with my fiance, and we broke up before my first fight with Rose Namajunas, and this terrible weight cut happened, and I broke up again,” she said. “This year I found out that my [previous Polish] manager messed up my money, and then I found out that my fiance was cheating on me.

“That girl called me; I think that she was afraid that I was going to beat her up so badly, but I was like, ‘No, I’m kidding.’ I just want to show to people and tell people that there’s always something going on in our lives. It doesn’t matter who you are. If your private life is not going in the right direction, you’re not going to be successful in the sport, or in the business.”

After starting her MMA career with 14 straight wins, including five consecutive defenses of the UFC strawweight championship, Jedrzejczyk faltered in a pair of bouts against Namajunas. She then she lost a fight for the vacant flyweight title in a rematch with Valentina Shevchenko.

That left Jedrzejczyk with losses in three of her four most recent appearances – she managed a unanimous decision victory over Tecia Torres – and the once seemingly unstoppable champion’s future seemed murky.

Now, after snapping Waterson’s three-fight win streak, Jedrzejczyk, 32, is poised to challenge current 115-pound champion Zhang Weili at UFC 248 on March 7 in Las Vegas. She’s grateful for surviving her recent turmoil, and she advises other fighters to better reconcile their careers with their personal lives.

“So I paid the ultimate price because I’m a warrior, I’m a real fighter, and we all are fighters, every single day,” she said. “I was always like, ‘Everything is fine, everything is good.’ And I was trying to throw the bad things out from my head, my mind. But it was there.

“This year was amazing, and I cannot wait for that coming 2020. Now I feel free. I feel me, I feel Joanna again. I’m more smart, I’m more experienced. Maybe shitty things happened in my life, but it has to happen somehow. I’m happy. I know what life is about now. When I turned 30, I thought I knew a lot and I had experienced a lot. I was broken in my life, so dedicated to the sport, losing my mind into the sport, working so hard. But that’s the difference – I’m happy now.”