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Emotional Joanna Jedrzejczyk reveals proudest moment of career after retiring at UFC 275

Joanna Jedrzejczyk didn’t walk into UFC 275 with a plan to retire, but after suffering a second-round knockout loss to Zhang Weili, her mind was made up.

After 21 fights in MMA and a combat sports career that stretched back nearly 20 years with kickboxing and muay Thai bouts, the 35-year-old former UFC strawweight champion felt it was time to hang up her gloves and call it a career.

“It was just the moment,” Jedrzejczyk said about her decision to retire during the UFC 275 post-fight press conference. “Of course, I had it in the back of my head like maybe there was one day, maybe a year ago, if something happened I might retire because I’ve been in this business for the last 19 years. Lots of investment from myself. It’s time to fully enjoy my life.

“Honestly, I had no time to sit on it and think about my legacy and how big it is, and I’m a hard worker. I always dedicate myself. I give as much as I can and I get as much as I can the same way but now it’s time to fully really enjoy it. Spend some time with my family. I started traveling when I was 17, I used to live in Thailand, in Holland and in the [United] States, it’s been more than six years from the time I moved to the States, I’ve been on the road. I’ve been doing this most of my life so it’s time to really, fully enjoy.”

Jedrzejczyk paid homage to Zhang on a job well done as she recounted the moments just after the fight-ending punch.

“I feel good,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Bells are still ringing in my head, but not bad. A few bruises. I got hit in the back of the head, and I’ve got a big bruise, but all good. I just saw getting closer to the mat, and I felt bells ringing in my head. I didn’t know what happened that time.

“I knew I was KOd, and I was like it’s all over, don’t hurry because you’re going to fall. It’s good. In the middle of the road before I hit the octagon, I was like sober already. She caught me good.”

While her fight career will end on a loss, Jedrzejczyk still maintains the record as the longest reigning strawweight champion in UFC history and she built a legacy in the sport that goes far beyond any title.

Even with all the wins on her record, Jedrzejczyk actually pointed to another achievement in the sport.

“The time when I was broke and that time, I felt I had no options – I had to quit,” Jedrzejczyk explained. “There was no money, no options, no possibilities but limits are only in our heads. I made a decision that I was going to become a superstar and I did that and I’m proud of myself. When I talk about my dreams from the past, I’m super proud of myself that I made it. Just don’t give up, guys.

“Sometimes I was in the super crazy and difficult position, and I thought that there was not going to be any help but there was. There is always an option but we need to make this first step. That is most important. We need to keep on moving. We can slow down but we can’t stop. We need to keep on moving in our lives and fully enjoy the rollercoaster.”

The emotion of the moment eventually overwhelmed Jedrzejczyk as she addressed her future now that fighting is done.

As much as she plans on finally relaxing without another training camp on the horizon, Jedrzjeczyk promised she’ll still be around the sport and plans to remain a fixture in the UFC.

“I’ve been saying that I’m the UFC soldier,” Jedrzejczyk said as she fought back the tears. “I just got a message from [UFC Chief Business Officer] Hunter [Campbell], I love you guys. I want to go on vacation. I’m planning on going to International Fight Week and London and Paris and be around.

“In the future, I want to be the best manager I can be, learning from the best my manager Jennifer Goldstein, CAA combat sports, Dan Lambert, the owner of [American Top Team]. I want to be around. I just want to be around.”

It was nearly impossible for Jedrzejczyk to truly encapsulate her entire career just moments after retiring but she’s confident in the legacy she leaves behind not to mention the long list of accolades on her resume.

She’s also ready for a nice, long break after putting her mind, body and soul through the ringer to remain one of the top fighters in the sport for so many years.

“I always want to be remembered as one of the greatest and I will,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I’m just the girl from the hood. J.J. from the hood. I did big things. I have to sit and think about what I have achieved.

“I bought a nice apartment maybe two years ago. Do you know how many times I was there? None. Like maybe I slept there two nights. Now I have time to fully enjoy it. I’ll go there, spend some time, sit on it and enjoy it.”