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Joanna Jędrzejczyk reveals reason for declining title shot, preferred opponent for UFC return

Jędrzejczyk and Weili were involved in a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate last time they met. 

Joanna Jędrzejczyk is inching closer to her return to the Octagon after nearly two years away from competition. And the former strawweight champion expects a rematch against her most recent opponent to be waiting for her.

Jędrzejczyk was in action at UFC 248, where she met Zhang Weili for the championship in a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate. She went on to lose a split decision to Weili, and the Polish star took a break from fighting. Because of her inactivity, Jędrzejczyk was eventually removed from the official UFC rankings but insisted she would be back as soon as possible.

The 34-year-old has hinted at who she would like to share the Octagon with for her next appearance, and it appears as though it will be Weili again. While on the Kanal Sportowy show in Poland, Jędrzejczyk said she is indeed targeting the No. 1 contender.

“Everyone thinks I’m not in the UFC anymore,” Jedrzejczyk said (transcription via Sport.pl). “I am, I just dropped out of the ranking, because I haven’t fought for a dozen or so months, but I’m coming back and fighting [the No. 1 contender]. It will probably be Zhang Weili.”

Weili was one of the fights Jędrzejczyk wanted, but rematches against Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza took precedence over it. When the No. 1 contender for Namajunas was still being determined, Jędrzejczyk lobbied for another meeting with Esparza, who she previously defeated via second-round technical knockout at UFC 185 in 2015.

However, once Esparza vs. Namajunas II was confirmed, Jędrzejczyk was apparently left with two options: wait for the winner or fight someone else in the meantime. She chose the latter and since the rest of the top five have fights lined up, Weili was really her only option.

“I thought it might be Carla Esparza, but [it’s] confirmed that she is the next to fight the championship,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Somewhere there is [Maria] Rodriguez, who also fights Yan [Xiaonan] in March, and [then it] becomes Zhang Weili. I don’t see any other fight. Just going for the belt.

“Dana [White] made me an offer to fight for the championship, but I would have to wait until November-December and I don’t want to wait. I want to fight.”

Jędrzejczyk did not provide a potential date for her return, but it is fast approaching.