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Morning Report: Joanna Jedrzejczyk open to rematch with Carla Esparza: ‘If she wants to get the title shot, I can fight her’

Joanna Jedrzejczyk Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

At UFC 268, Rose Namajunas successfully defended her strawweight title with a split-decision win over Zhang Weili. The win presumably should have set up Namajunas for a rematch with former champion Carla Esparza, but following the bout, UFC President Dana White ruled out Esparza, saying that “you don’t sit around and wait for a title shot.” It was an unexpected declaration from White, but if the UFC holds to it, there is a volunteer ready to let Esparza earn another crack at the belt: former foe Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Speaking with the South China Morning Post recently, Jedrzejczyk welcomed a rematch with Esparza, assuming the UFC doesn’t grant “Cookie Monster” a title shot.

“It would be an interesting fight,” Jedrzejczyk said. “We have a good fighting history. She’s waiting for the title shot. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. She might get the title shot, she might not get it because Dana is saying something totally different than Mick (Maynard, UFC matchmaker). But I don’t know, I would love to fight her and if she wants to get the title shot, I can fight her.”

Jedrzejczyk and Esparza previously fought all the way back at UFC 185 in what was the first title defense of the UFC strawweight belt (Esparza had won the title just three months earlier over Namajunas as the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter 20). In a dominating performance, Jedrzejczyk stopped Esparza in the second round to claim the belt. Jedrzejczyk then put together the most dominant run in the division’s history, defending her title five times before losing it to Namajunas by KO and then losing a competitive rematch by decision six months later.

Most recently, Jedrzejczyk faced Zhang Weili for the strawweight belt at UFC 248, losing a split decision in one of the greatest fights of all time. Since then though, Jedrzejczyk has been on the shelf, and given her extensive time off, and the assumption that Namajunas will want to take some time after her hard-fought win, Jedrzejczyk says she’s also open to the idea of a rematch with Weili.

“She might be the next one, I don’t know,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I don’t know how much I need the fight with Weili Zhang to get the title shot, in case Rose is not ready to fight in March/April, because I believe she wants to rest. She put on a hell of a performance, it was pretty tough fight, five rounds, so I be she wants to enjoy her time as a champ, as a human. So we will see. I don’t know what the next step will be.

“I might go to the states and corner Mateusz Gamrot (who is scheduled to face Carlos Diego Ferreira) in December, so I might sit and have dinner with Dana or Mick and talk to them about my next move.”

Whatever that next move is though, Jedrzejczyk wants it to happen soon. After nearly two years of waiting, Joanna Champion says she’s ready to get back to business.

“I know how to do business as well and I understand UFC and Dana promised me after my last fight but I understand Rose’s position,” Jedrzejczyk said. “She’s the champ and she can decide who she wants to fight next and when. I feel like I want to be back to the Octagon March-April so if the champ is not going to be ready, if she’s not willing to fight me, I will take another fight because I just want to be back. I don’t want to sit here and wait another six, eight, 12 months – it’s not that UFC made the pressure on me, but I just want to do what’s good and best for me.”


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