Joanna Jedrzejczyk has shared the Octagon with several women known for their hard punches, but the one who hit her the hardest may come as a surprise.
Rose Namajunas, Zhang Weili and Valentina Shevchenko have all defeated Jedrzejczyk in past appearances. Of those three opponents, Namajunas and Weili doled out the most serious damage to the former strawweight champion, with ‘Thug’ knocking her out at UFC 217 and ‘Magnum’ causing a huge hematoma to sprout from her forehead at UFC 248.
When asked to choose who hits harder between them, Jedrzejczyk selected Namajunas. However, she gave another name for who hits hardest overall, and that distinction belongs to a former teammate and title challenger.
“I think Rose,” said Jedrzejczyk on the Punchin’ In podcast (via MMA Junkie). “The first one [fight with Namajunas], I don’t remember. I didn’t feel the power. I just went to sleep, but there were some things that happened before the fight. In the second fight, I felt she was hitting pretty hard, but you know who hit the hardest? Valerie Letourneau. She was the hardest puncher I have ever faced…so Valerie and then Rose.
“For so many years, they were only talking about [Namajunas’] grappling, how good she is on the ground, but I think her striking is really, really good. Top level. Very precise, good timing and very, very strong. She’s very strong.”
Jedrzejczyk and Letourneau met at UFC 193, where the American Top Team staple successfully defended her championship by unanimous decision. Jedrzejczyk set records in that defense, including most significant strikes thrown in a UFC championship fight (225) and most leg kicks in a fight (70). She went on to rule over the division before her reign came to an end by the aforementioned Namajunas.
It has been nearly two years since Jedrzejczyk fought, but the 34-year-old has teased a return as soon as March. She also revealed that there is one fight remaining on her current contract with the UFC and is just waiting for the right one to be offered by the UFC brass.
“I spoke with [UFC matchmaker] Mick [Maynard]. I spoke with [UFC president] Dana [White] and at the end of the year, I told them that I would love to be back at the end of March,” said Jedrzejczyk. “I told them that I was planning to be back here to the gym, but I need some time with my coaches, with my teammates and all of you guys. I can’t complain. All the girls [ranked] from 1-10 are booked, so I can’t complain because it was my decision to not fight for such a long time. So, I’m just training and waiting, and I think we’re just going to get the big fights. That’s it.”
Jedrzejczyk has expressed interest in rematches with Namajunas, Weili and Carla Esparza for next appearance.