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Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Late notice Shevchenko campaign ‘not only for fun or for PR’

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Joanna Jedrzejczyk really did want to fight women’s bantamweight contender Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 213 on less than one day’s notice.

MMA: UFC 211-Jedrzejczyk vs Andrade Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Joanna Jedrzejczyk fighting Valentina Shevchenko up two weight classes on less than 24 hours’ notice was likely unrealistic from the moment it was first mentioned. But the UFC strawweight champion is adamant she didn’t just ask for the Shevchenko fight as a marketing ploy; she really was interested in stepping up on short notice and facing a former muay Thai foe in Shevchenko, Jedrzejczyk said.

“There was not enough time, but if they said yes, I would fight,” the titleholder told media at UFC 213 on Saturday night in Las Vegas (via MMA Fighting). “It was not only for fun or for PR; I’m a professional athlete and I was really willing to fight.”

All of this started, of course, when women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes pulled out of the UFC 213 main event in which she was scheduled to defend the title for the second time against Shevchenko in a rematch. UFC 213 was the pay-per-view event that marked the end to International Fight Week 2017.

Nunes was cleared by doctors on Saturday, per UFC president Dana White, but the Brazilian didn’t feel fit to fight and withdrew from the contest.

Jedrzejczyk immediately offered her services for later that evening, but having her fill in for Nunes was never a realistic option because the Polish fighter did not weigh in the day before nor were any of her medicals or other tests (including a pregnancy test) completed 72 hours in advance.

According to Jedrzejczyk, the fact that she has lost to Shevchenko three times in muay Thai did not play a part in her interest in fighting the women’s bantamweight contender.

“There is not a bad blood between me and Valentina Shevchenko. We have a very good relationship,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I’m not crazy about Valentina and fighting with her; it was only for the fans to help rescue the show, UFC 213.”

Jedrzejczyk said she feels sorry for both her American Top Team teammate, Nunes, and Shevchenko after what happened. She added that “The Lioness” is a true champion and will be back stronger and better than ever.

“MMA is a difficult sport. It’s all about being the strongest physically and mentally, as well,” Jedrzejczyk said. “But the weight cuts, the preparations are very heavy, very hard, and very tough for our bodies and brains.

“I feel sorry for Valentina Shevchenko. It was her big chance to fight for a title. She was very close to maybe becoming a UFC world champion. I hope we will see them fighting very soon.”

After Nunes vs. Shevchenko was officially removed from the card, UFC 213 proceeded with 11 bouts and Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker for the interim UFC middleweight championship became the new main event. Whittaker won via unanimous decision.