In my previous post I discussed how women in mixed martial arts should be noticed for their skills instead of how "hot" they are. Unfortunately, many female fighters have had to pose half naked to get noticed by promotions such as Ultimate Fighting Championship, while women with incredible talent but not much in the looks department go under-marketed.

Enter Joanna Jedrzejczyk. A few weeks after I wrote my previous post, Joanna, a somewhat plain-looking Polish girl who is the champion of the strawweight (115 lbs.) division in the UFC, was to defend her title for
the first time.


joanna champion

Joanna "Champion" holds her UFC belt


Just a few months earlier, Joanna had figuratively ripped the UFC belt from previous champ Carla Esparza by beating her down in spectacular fashion. Carla, who was defending her belt for the first time, is a decorated wrestler, but she couldn't take Joanna down to the octagon mat. Joanna, on the other hand, punched Carla almost 200 times with incredible precision, ending the fight with a technical knockout. Before joining the UFC, Joanna was a six-time Muay Thai World Champion. (Muay Thai, for the uninitiated, is
very similar to kickboxing).


joanna jedrzejczyk carla esparza ufc 185

Joanna dethroning Carla Esparza

 Despite that incredible victory, for her first title defense, Joanna would be featured not in a pay-per-view show where millions of people could watch her fight, but on a smaller show that could only be watched on the UFC's app, Fight Pass. Yes, a title fight was only shown via an app. An app! I don't think this has ever been the case in the men's division.

Not only that, but the fight was not given all the promotion that is usually given to title fights. Even the male fans of the UFC thought it was sketchy that a title fight would be so weakly promoted.

But Joanna sure lit a fire under the MMA world's ass in her title defense. Her opponent, Jessica Penne, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and one of the best grapplers in the women's division, ended up with a bad cut on her nose that left her entire face soaked in blood. The octagon looked like a murder scene. Joanna hit Jessica so hard she fractured her own thumb.




Jessica Penne: "Makeup" by Joanna


It wasn't just the violence that impressed fans. Joanna is incredibly precise. As MMA site put it: "Joanna Jedrzejczyk's striking was a thing of beauty." Many people in the sport, including top male fighters, have publicly said they believe Joanna is the best striker in the UFC. Not in the women's division, in the entire UFC.

Besides being an elite warrior, Joanna also has another thing going for her: she's extremely likable.

In the days before a fight, Joanna exudes a level of confidence that can make anyone drool with admiration. She is not arrogant, but she has no qualms in trying to intimidate her opponents, letting them know she's the
champion and will be so for a long time. This is, as some call it, "the hurt business," after all.

But once the fighting is over, Joanna is a sweet girl with a big smile and a huge collection of sneakers, or "kicks," as she calls them. In interviews, she comes across as very humble, never disrespecting former or future opponents. Added to that, her accented English and the occasional wink to interviewers just make her even more charming.

After defending her title, Joanna has become a superstar in the MMA world. She used her precise striking and takedown defense to conquer the world. UFC women's bantamweight (135 lbs.) champ Ronda Rousey called her a "fighter's fighter" and said she has "nothing but respect" for Joanna. Reebok agreed to sponsor her. Even the UFC is paying attention to her now, flying her around the US for media opportunities.

And she's never had to pose half naked to get that.


T. Rosa

T. Rosa

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