Ronda Rousey was once rightfully dubbed the queen of woman’s MMA. The former women’s bantamweight champion dominated the competition, remaining undefeated for four years until a perfectly timed kick from Holly Holm sent “Rowdy” crashing to the canvas and leaving her career in tatters.
While Rousey sat on the side-lines and the bantamweight belt exchanged hands twice more, the question arose as to who would become the new queen of women’s MMA?
Holly Holm, Miesha Tate and now Amanda Nunes all took claim to the strap Rousey once held tightly but none have yet to assert their dominance.
Instead a woman fighting in the weight bracket below let her performances do the talking and quietly stepped out of the shadows to take over as the most prevailing woman in the sport.
That woman is undefeated strawweight champion, and owner of the most difficult name to pronounce in mixed martial arts; Joanna Jedrzejczyk, more easily referred to as Joanna Champion.
Jedrzejczyk had a short rise to prominence which started back in 2012. After many years successfully dominating the kickboxing and Muay Thai world in her native Poland, she decided to transfer her skills to mixed martial arts.
Within two years she had gone 6-0 and the UFC were alerted to a potential new star. She swiftly made her UFC debut in 2014, just three weeks after her last outing, and defeated Juliana Lima convincingly.
For her second trip to the octagon she was lined up for a title eliminator against Claudia Gadelha, in a hard back and forth contest that Jedrzejczyk won by split decision.
Just three months later; at UFC 185, Joanna Jedrzejczyk got her crowning moment as she faced off against the champion Carla Esparza. She didn’t waste any time, demonstrating a boxing clinic that resulted in a TKO victory late into the second round thus claiming the strawweight belt.
She then went on to successful defend her belt twice more before joining the Ultimate Fighter as a coach opposite her rival Claudia Gadelha.
The pair met once again in the finale with Gadelha dominating the first two rounds before Jedrzejczyk endless work rate took over and she won the final three rounds to once again remain the champion.
For her next fight at UFC 205, she was placed on the biggest stage of all in New York, to take on her Polish compatriot, the undefeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
After five tough rounds in which she showed her relentless pace and constant push forward style, Jedrzejczyk won by unanimous decision.
In her most recent visit to the octagon at UFC 211, again she went the distance this time defeating Jessica Andrade by unanimous decision brining her total successful defences up to five.
What separates Jedrzejczyk from all the other woman in mixed martial arts is her ‘never say die’ attitude.
She is never on the back foot and continuously in the face of her opponent.
She is determined to be the best and at this moment in time she is the baddest woman on the planet.
If you are yet to witness this special fighter perform then make sure you do on November 4 at UFC 217 as she defends her belt against Rose Namajunes in New York.
Ed Larkin, Pundit Arena