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Joanna Jedrzejczyk open to 5 rounds in rematch with Zhang Weili, but ‘we definitely have to get paid a little bit more’

When Joanna Jedrzejczyk returns for her rematch against Zhang Weili at UFC 275, it will only be the fourth time in her UFC career she’s scheduled to go three rounds.

Between title fights and main events, the ex-strawweight champion has spent the majority of her time preparing to go 25 minutes, and she’s more than willing to do it again — but only under the right conditions.

“It’s [33] percent more time spent in the octagon if I do five rounds instead of three,” Jedrzejczyk told MMA Fighting. “Yeah, definitely, we will have to negotiate that, because I can fight, I want to fight five rounds. Let’s check the UFC’s position and Weili Zhang’s position, because a month ago, she turned down the fight. She didn’t want to fight and now we’re fighting.

“Let’s see. I don’t know if she wants to go five rounds with me. I don’t know this but I’m ready to do this.”

Whether Zhang wants to do another five-round fight remains to be seen, but Jedrzjeczyk is more than ready for the challenge — so long as she’s compensated for the extra time spent in the octagon.

After recently inking a new multi-fight contract with the UFC, Jedrzjeczyk is happy with the terms as well as the money she’s being paid, which comes along with additional incentives from the promotion.

That said, Jedrzejczyk wants to ensure that the extra time she’d spend in the gym getting ready for a five-round fight — not to mention the potential damage she could absorb over 25 minutes — would be worth it.

To put that in context, Jedrzejczyk absorbed 170 strikes over five rounds in her previous fight with Zhang. In her three previous three round fights in the UFC, Jedrzjeczyk only absorbed 78 total strikes combined.

“You change your training, your sparring a little bit, you put more effort into it,” Jedrzejczyk explained. “We will spend more time in the octagon putting our health and lives on the line. So we definitely have to get paid a little bit more.

“We are negotiating so we will see. I’m open to it and I know that Dana [White] said they would love to work on it. We’re just waiting on a response. Let’s see.”

For her part, Zhang seemed indifferent to the suggestion about moving the fight from three rounds to five rounds.

“Personally, I think there is no big difference between three rounds and five rounds,” Zhang said during the UFC 275 pre-fight press conference. “Because we are not the main event or we are not [fighting for] the title even. So I think the three rounds or five rounds are similar, and the only difference is going to be on the strategy part.”

UFC president Dana White said just after the rematch was announced that it made sense for Jedrzejczyk and Zhang to meet again in a five-round bout after their first encounter in 2020 was almost universally recognized as the Fight of the Year.

While the rematch doesn’t have a title on the line this time around nor is it the main event, Jedrzejczyk would embrace a 25-minute fight because that means the same exact conditions would exist as she seeks revenge after falling to Zhang in razor-close split decision.

Jedrzejczyk is also clear that negotiating for a bigger paycheck isn’t just about her, because she wants the same thing for Zhang.

“We both deserve this,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I would not put on the Fight of the Year in 2020 without Weili Zhang.

“This is what I said in so many interviews years ago, I’m always trying to bring it up. I get motivated by my opponents and I’m trying to motivate them to be better and to put on these hell of a fights every time. Because when you watch my opponents with different opponents, the fights are not that spectacular.”

With training camp for the fight already underway in Florida at American Top Team, Jedrzejczyk is ready to put in whatever works necessary to get the win against Zhang when they finally clash again on June 11.

Just over two years have passed since they last met, and Jedrzejczyk promises that she’s learned a lot about herself and her opponent when studying and preparing for the rematch.

That’s why she’s planning on a different approach this time around, not to mention a much better result.

“I’m a real warrior when I step into the octagon,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I take this fight, but I know that I have more tools and I can be better and more smarter fighter in the octagon during the fight, so I don’t have to exchange only and get this damage. I just need to be more smarter with using my tools and I will do that this time.

“This fight, I feel is going to be different. Sometimes, I just took the fight [to her] and I should be smarter. I took a big lesson and I will change this.”

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