Former UFC champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been out of the fight game for almost two years to the day. And while she hasn’t exactly been talking about retirement, questions abound as to just when she’ll be making her Octagon return. After all, from the sound of things, Jedrzejczyk certainly seems to have the desire to get back to throwing hands.
The thing that’s been keeping her from fighting, though? Getting paid what she’s worth.
In a recent interview on the Fighter vs Writer podcast (courtesy of Damon Martin over at MMAFighting), Jedrzejczyk discussed how she’s had to juggle training and the fight life with establishing businesses and her personal life. Along the way, she wasn’t exactly coy about the fact that she wants to improve improve her contract terms to be truly happy with a return to the cage.
“It’s kind of sad but I get as much as I can from here and now because I’ve been doing this for 18 years, you all know this, but my life got changed when I got into the UFC and became the champion and got more opportunity. I started making money, and I’m trying to get as much as I can, but I’m doing things I really love to do. Yeah, I accomplished a lot in this sport and it’s not about the money, but I feel like I’m in the sport where I can ask for more money because I deserve this. I deserve this and I know my worth.”
Given her status as both a former belt holder and a formidable threat to anyone in the strawweight division, it seems like ‘Joanna Champion’ could very easily return to the title picture in short order.
And with so much time away from the cage, it seems she’s found a way to make a good enough living for herself training and fighting doesn’t have to totally dominate her life. Having found a sense of financial stability outside of fighting, she now feels she’ll be able to re-dedicate herself 100% to fighting with less distractions or concerns.
“I wanted to make sure that everything is going the right direction. Because when my fighting career blew up, I was focusing only on my fighting career, and it was good, but I like to do so many things. I’m personal with so many hobbies, passions, businesses. I wanted to make sure everything was going in the right direction. Now I have a clear head, a strong heart, and I can be focusing only on training.”
“I feel like I’m making more money outside the Octagon,” Jedrzejczyk added. “It’s kind of set for me. Because my big hobby, big passion, became my job with fighting. It’s all happening, we’re talking because of my legacy and how dedicated I was and I am, because of MMA and my job.
At the end of the day, it sounds as though her heart has never strayed from fighting—no matter what other ventures she’s become involved in.
“It’s hard because so many people are like, ‘Maybe you should stop fighting, you shouldn’t even be doing this,’” she explained. “You do this, you do that, you have this business, the other business,’ but you can’t stop the love. Love is real and it’s the only real thing in this world.”
After losing for the first two times of her MMA career to current champ Rose Namajunas, Jedrzejczyk has since alternated wins and losses—including victories over Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson. Most recently, she dropped a split decision to Weili Zhang at UFC 248, in a fight many have dubbed as among the all time great battles. If she returns to action in 2022, it sounds like the longtime ATT trained talent is targeting a high profile rematch, either with Zhang, Namajunas, or Carla Esparza.