When Claudia Gadelha retired from MMA in December 2021, she did so with a fairly impressive résumé: An 18-5 record and wins over the likes of current UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
But her losses to Joanna Jedrzejczyk still stick in her throat.
Gadelha, who continues to work for the UFC since hanging up her gloves, collided with Jedrzejczyk twice inside the octagon. Their first encounter took place in December 2014 and saw the Polish striker win a close split decision. Twelve months later, Jedrzejczyk won another, more decisive decision over Gadelha to defend the UFC strawweight title.
Six years have passed since that rematch, and though Gadelha has ruled out ever competing in MMA again after experiencing concussion-like symptoms following her final UFC bout with Yan Xiaonan, she has still left the door open for other forms of martial arts.
To that, Gadelha recently told MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca that she’s open to competing in jiu-jitsu, whether its ADCC or other no-gi submission events in the future. As a black belt in jiu-jitsu with seven submissions under her belt in MMA, Gadelha even has an ideal opponent in mind for her return to the mats.
“I’d really have liked to do a third fight with Joanna. A lot. A lot,” she said. “I think those two fights were really close, and I would’ve loved to have fought her a third time. I don’t regret not doing it. ... But it would make me happy if it happens in jiu-jitsu.”
Jedrzejczyk was a decorated kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter before starting her MMA career in 2012, and has only won once via submission in the cage.
To put it bluntly, Gadelha is not optimistic that Jedrzejczyk will ever meet her in a contest that is strictly grappling.
“I don’t think she’d agree to it,” Gadelha said. “It will just linger in the air, really.”
Now that’s she’s moved on from her MMA career, “Claudinha” believes she walked away as the greatest strawweight to never become UFC champion.
“I see myself as a champion in life, someone that has overcome a lot in their personal life through fighting,” she said.
“The idea of having a belt around my waist — I’m sure I was the best strawweight fighter who never won the UFC belt, and it was close. The one time I fought for the belt was close, and the other times I was approaching another opportunity to fight for the title, it was also very close. I was never submitted or knocked out.
“I always got in there to win, always challenging myself to the fullest, always looking for opportunities to evolve. But it’s like I said, it’s a blessing in disguise. All my experience of trying and doing [what I did] has given me the knowledge to be able to help other talents.
“So, to answer your question, yes, for sure.”