Jedrzejczyk challenges champion Esparza

UFC women’s strawweight contender Joanna Jedrzejczyk understands her name is quite difficult to pronounce.

She intends to make things very easy on the fans.

Jedrzejczyk, who is spending the final few days of her training camp in Las Vegas to prepare for a title fight against Carla Esparza, said after Saturday everyone can just call her champion.

The 27-year-old native of Poland plans to take the belt from Esparza in the co-main event of UFC 185 in Dallas. (In case she wins, her name is pronounced Yo-an-na Yed-ZHEY-chik.)

There’s no mystery to her game plan. Esparza uses her wrestling effectively to neutralize opponents, but Jedrzejczyk believes she can keep the fight on the feet where she’s more comfortable.

“She is a good wrestler. Everybody knows this,” Jedrzejczyk said after a workout at Robert Drysdale’s gym on Rainbow Boulevard on Friday. “Everyone is talking about it, but I do not care. We are going to play my game.”

While Esparza earned the belt by navigating a bracket of 16 fighters chosen to compete on “The Ultimate Fighter” to determine the UFC’s first women’s strawweight champion, Jedrzejczyk reeled off two wins in the organization to earn the right to be her first challenger.

Jedrzejczyk anticipated her success

“Maybe not this quick, but I expected I would fight with the best and that I would be champion. I’m really glad I got this opportunity so quickly and I believe I’m ready for it.” she said. “ If you’re good, you’re going to get your chance. There were lots of good fighters outside the house and people are going to see that.”

The pay-per-view event is headlined by a lightweight title fight between Rafael dos Anjos and champion Anthony Pettis.

N.Y. EVENT POSSIBLE — A political scandal in New York has once again opened the door for possible sanctioning of MMA in the state.

The UFC has put significant resources into trying to get a bill passed through the state legislature, but the efforts have failed largely because New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has blocked efforts to put the bill to a vote despite polling showing strong support.

Silver, however, was arrested on federal corruption charges in January and resigned his position.

White believes that development will clear the way for the bill’s passage this year.

“You want to know how confident I am? We’re holding a date. That’s how confident we are,” he said on AXS TV. “I don’t want to be cocky, but we’re being confident, so we’re holding a date (at Madison Square Garden).”

The event is expected to be in December should all go as planned.

NO GENDER WAR — Don’t count UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey among those clamoring to see her fight a man in the cage.

Rousey’s continued dominance over her peers, combined with some high profile speculation about how she would fare in the men’s division, has made the topic a trendy one in recent days.

“It’s not a reality,” she said on Doug Gottlieb’s radio show. “They’re not gonna do anything like that. Fights are chaotic. Anything can happen. And there’s no setting in which we should condone a man hitting a woman.”

Even if Rousey wanted to take such a fight, it’s unlikely it could be sanctioned.

“I really just don’t think that any athletic commission on Earth would ever condone something like that,” she said. “Fights are going to go both ways. You’re going to see both people hitting each other. I don’t think we should celebrate a man hitting a woman in any kind of setting.”

Rousey won’t be taking any fights for some time. She stated after defeating Cat Zingano in just 14 seconds on Feb. 28 that she would begin filming a movie and away from MMA for a few months.

SILVA-HAMILL REMATCH SET — Former UFC light heavyweight Thiago Silva will meet a familiar face when he makes his return to action for his new employer this month.

Silva is scheduled to fight Matt Hamill in the co-main event of a World Series of Fighting card in Phoenix on March 28.

Silva won a unanimous decision over Hamill in October 2013, but has not fought since. The 32-year-old dealt with a series of injuries before he was released from his UFC contract following a highly publicized domestic incident. Charges were eventually dropped and Silva signed with WSOF.

The loss to Silva was also the last time Hamill competed in MMA. He announced his retirement before deciding to return to competition last year.

Hamill was supposed to fight Vinny Magalhaes, but the Las Vegan’s contract with Titan Fighting Championships is preventing him from accepting the bout. Silva’s originally announced opponent, Ronny Markes, will be rescheduled for a future card.

The event will be headlined by a lightweight title fight between Justin Gaethje and Luis Palomino.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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