Ex-UFC champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk wasting no time to win back belt

Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk enjoyed her reign as champion so much she can’t wait for her chance to win the belt back.

Not everything about the experience was positive for the 30-year-old native of Poland, who now lives and trains in south Florida.

Jedrzejczyk was a bit taken aback by the discovery certain people were less than enthusiastic about her accomplishments.

“People are so jealous after you make your dreams come true because they want what you have, but they’re not willing to put in the work to get there,” Jedrzejczyk said on the phone from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she will fight Tecia Torres on the main card of UFC on Fox 30 on Saturday night. “I feel motivated every day because it’s not just about achieving all your goals and dreams, it’s about putting in the work to get there.

“Winners put in the work. This is what I’m doing. I’m not waiting. I’m fighting just a couple months after losing a five-round title fight. This is crazy. I didn’t have enough time with my family. I was homesick, but I know the reason and it’s going to make victory taste even better because of that.”

Jedrzejczyk is one of three former champions on the four-fight main card, which airs on Fox at 5 p.m. Four fights from the preliminary card will also air on Fox at 3 p.m.

Former lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez takes on Dustin Poirier in a main event rematch of a controversial bout in May 2017. After a wild back-and-forth start, Alvarez landed two illegal knees to Poirier on the ground to end the fight, which was ruled a no-contest.

Jose Aldo, the former longtime featherweight champion, will look for his first win in more than two years when he takes on durable slugger Jeremy Stephens.

It has been awhile since Jedrzejczyk got to feast on a win. After winning the first 14 fights of her career and looking for all the world like she would break Ronda Rousey’s record for consecutive UFC title defenses by a female, she was knocked out by Rose Namajunas last November after a brutal weight cut left her depleted.

Jedrzejczyk then came into the April rematch feeling much better only to drop a unanimous decision she still disputes.

“The second one hurt more because I know I won the fight,” she said. “But you can’t keep the anger. I turned the page. You must keep going forward and that’s what I’m doing. That’s why I’m different than other fighters. I’m obsessed with getting better every day. That’s where my focus is right now.”

Jedrzejczyk’s determination to win back the title might be keeping her fighting at 115 pounds. When she was champion, she often discussed moving up to the newly created 125-pound division. Now all she wants is another chance against Namajunas.

Jedrzejczyk believes she will get that with a win over Torres, whose only two career losses have come against Namajunas and top contender Jessica Andrade.

“I’m very confident I will get a shot if I win,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I want that next shot and I think beating Tecia Torres will help me do that. She’s a good matchup for me, but she’s a very strong and talented fighter. I’m just on a different level. I’m just better.”

At least the fight has given her a chance to prepare for someone else.

Jedrzejczyk had spent back-to-back camps focusing solely on preparing for Namajunas, a tremendous athlete with range and flashy submission skills. Torres is a shorter opponent who packs power in her punches and keeps opponents off balance with her ability to attack from different angles and keep a low center-of-gravity.

Jedrzejczyk is more concerned with herself, however.

“The preparation is the actually the same,” she said. “It’s always the same. I’m a hard worker no matter what. That’s what makes me different. Discipline, discipline, discipline. I’m powerful. I’m strong. Everything I do is getting better. You will see that on Saturday.”

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @CoveringTheCage on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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