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Joanna Jedrzejczyk welcomes Carla Esparza rematch: ‘We have a good fighting history’

Jedrzejczyk vs. Esparza II, anyone? 

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Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza after weighing in for UFC 185 in 2015.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza after weighing in for UFC 185 in 2015.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is ready to return to the Octagon following a near two-year absence and she needs an opponent. Jedrzejczyk is not without options though as she could find herself either vying for the strawweight championship again or in a No. 1 contender fight, both of which would be against women she has previously fought.

Jedrzejczyk prefers a third fight with Rose Namajunas but welcomes rematches against Carla Esparza and Zhang Weili as well. In an interview with Tom Taylor of South China Morning Post, the former champion said that while she has her sights set on Namajunas now, she understands that ‘Thug’ could take some time away after her split decision win over Weili at UFC 268 earlier this month. Should that scenario happen, Jedrzejczyk would move on to another fight in the meantime.

“I know how to do business as well and I understand UFC and Dana [White] promised me after my last fight, but I understand Rose’s position, said Jedrzejczyk. “She’s the champ, and she can decide who she wants to fight next and when. I feel like I want to be back to the Octagon March, April, so if the champ is not going to be ready, if she’s not willing to fight me, so I will take another fight because I just want to be back. I don’t want to sit here and wait another six, eight, 12 months. It’s not that UFC made the pressure on me that I have to take another fight, but I just want to do what’s good and best for me.”

Jedrzejczyk believes a rematch with Esparza would be the next best course of action, especially when both women hope to get a championship opportunity soon. Esparza is on a five-fight win streak and currently holds the No. 2 spot in the strawweight rankings, two feats that were sure to merit a title shot against Namajunas. However, the ‘Cookie Monster’ was recently passed over by UFC president Dana White, who stated that it was a “really bad idea” to sit and wait for it.

Jedrzejczyk says that Esparza could earn the said title shot by fighting her, so she is open to the idea of a second meeting. The pair first met over six years ago at UFC 185, where Jedrzejczyk battered Esparza to claim the strawweight championship via second-round technical knockout.

“It would be an interesting fight,” said Jedrzejczyk. “We have a good fighting history. She’s waiting for the title shot. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. She might get the title shot. She might not get it because Dana is saying something totally different than [UFC matchmaker] Mick [Maynard], but I don’t know. I would love to fight her and if she wants to get the title shot, I can fight her.”

If Namajunas and Esparza are unavailable, then Jedrzejczyk could see herself fighting Weili instead. Jedrzejczyk lost a split decision to Weili in the ‘Fight of the Year’ of 2020 at UFC 248 and was always interested in running it back with the fellow former champion.

“She might be the next one, I don’t know,” said Jedrzejczyk. “I don’t know how much I need the fight with Weili Zhang to get the title shot, in case Rose is not ready to fight in March, April because I believe she wants to rest. She put on a hell of a performance. It was a pretty tough fight, five rounds, so I bet she wants to enjoy her time as a champ and as a human. So we will see. I don’t know what the next step is going to be.

“I might go to the states and corner Mateusz Gamrot in December, so I might sit and have dinner with Dana or Mick and talk to them about my next move.”