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5 reasons why Joanna Jedrzejczyk was right to announce her retirement

Was Joanna Jedrzejczyk right to announce her retirement at UFC 275?
Was Joanna Jedrzejczyk right to announce her retirement at UFC 275?
Scott Newman

UFC 275, which went down this past weekend in Singapore, saw the end of an era of sorts when former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk decided to announce her retirement following her loss to Weili Zhang.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is undoubtedly a legend of the UFC’s strawweight division, but has she done the right thing in choosing to walk away from the octagon?

After an incredible career, Joanna Jędrzejczyk announces her retirement at #UFC275 👏 https://t.co/bHOzT8HN6w

It’s a debate that could go either way, but overall, the truth is that the Polish superstar has probably done the right thing.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why Joanna Jedrzejczyk was right to announce her retirement.


#5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk wants to ensure her future health by walking away

Jedrzejczyk has suffered a number of nasty knockouts and head shots in her UFC career
Jedrzejczyk has suffered a number of nasty knockouts and head shots in her UFC career

While MMA is usually billed as a “safer” sport than boxing, it’s probably safe to say that like any full-contact combat sport, it still takes its toll upon the body.

Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of examples of former UFC legends who ended up in a bad state after hanging onto their career in the octagon for a little too long. The sport is young enough that we may not yet know the full effects of an entire career in MMA, too.

However, it goes without saying that taking tons of strikes to the head, particularly if those strikes lead to outright knockouts, is no good for any fighter, particularly as they begin to get older.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk built her reputation on being one of the most fearsome strikers in the UFC, but it’s also safe to say that over the years, she’s taken a number of huge blows.

She was knocked out by Rose Namajunas in 2017, suffered bad knockdowns against both Valerie Letourneau and Karolina Kowalkiewicz in fights she went onto win, and took a ridiculous amount of damage in her first fight with Weili Zhang.

With that considered, then, and even ignoring any damage she may have taken during sparring sessions, it’s probably fair to suggest that it wouldn’t be a good idea for her to take many more major shots to the head, particularly after her scary knockout loss to Zhang this past weekend.

WALK OFF SPINNING BACKFIST FOR @MMAWEILI 🤯 #UFC275 https://t.co/dkuCZcIsYo

Therefore, it’s better for Jedrzejczyk’s future health that she’s chosen to walk away now.

#4. Joanna Jedrzejczyk was never likely to regain her strawweight title

After her loss this weekend, Joanna Jedrzejczyk was never likely to regain the UFC strawweight title
After her loss this weekend, Joanna Jedrzejczyk was never likely to regain the UFC strawweight title

Perhaps more than any other female fighter in UFC history, Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s persona and reputation was always built around the fact that she held UFC gold, namely the strawweight title.

The Polish fighter famously captured the title from Carla Esparza in March 2015, and went onto hold it for over two years before eventually losing it to Rose Namajunas in November 2017.

However, while that time period doesn’t seem all that long on the surface, Jedrzejczyk was able to put together five successful title defenses during it, and even gained the nickname ‘Joanna Champion’ due to her being so intrinsically linked with the gold.

Joanna Champ. Joanna Queen. Joanna Legend. ❤️🇵🇱 @JoannaMMA leaves the gloves in the Octagon and calls it a career. Thank you JJ! #UFC275 https://t.co/Smm5D9OIlb

Ever since she lost her title to Namajunas, Jedrzejczyk has naturally been looking to win it back. But after falling short against ‘Thug Rose’ in a rematch and coming out on the wrong end of a decision against Weili Zhang in 2020, it’s seemed less and less likely that she’d be able to achieve her goal.

Had Jedrzejczyk beaten Zhang in their rematch this weekend, then she’d have likely been given another title shot in a rematch with Esparza, a fight she’d have been favored to win. However, following her loss to ‘Magnum’, had she stuck around, she’d have been further from a title shot than ever before.

With that in mind, given that her ultimate goal would now have to be considered out of reach, what is there to stick around for? In that sense, it’s better that she simply step away.


#3. She has fought most of the opponents available to her already

Joanna Jedrzejczyk has fought a who's who of 115lbers during her career with the UFC
Joanna Jedrzejczyk has fought a who's who of 115lbers during her career with the UFC

One option for former UFC champions looking to continue to fight is to take so-called “money fights,” preferably with other big-name fighters in or around their weight class.

Of course, this only works if a fighter has plenty of fresh matchups, something that can often be tricky for a longtime former champion like Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Put simply, the Polish superstar just doesn’t have that many viable opponents available to her.

Of the UFC’s current ranked strawweights, Jedrzejczyk has already fought the majority of the big names, the likes of Carla Esparza, Rose Namajunas, Weili Zhang, Jessica Andrade, Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson.

These two are going at it!!! HUGE head kick by @JoannaMMA but @JessicaMMAPro gets the takedown after #UFC211 https://t.co/zzF4EHSUbO

Sure, she hasn’t fought opponents like Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez yet, but the truth is that fights with them simply wouldn’t class as big ones and would probably look more like the UFC attempting to make a prospect’s name off the back of a win over a legend.

Essentially, Jedrzejczyk has fought a who’s who of 115lbers in the UFC since her arrival there in 2014. So, given that there’s a dearth of potential opponents for her now, she’s better to walk away altogether.

#2. Joanna Jedrzejczyk has nothing left to prove

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is probably still the GOAT of the UFC's strawweight division
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is probably still the GOAT of the UFC's strawweight division

When it comes to deciding who the greatest of all time is in any of the UFC’s weight classes, the easiest way to pick is to simply look at which fighter had the most dominant run as champion.

It’s clear, for instance, that the UFC’s greatest middleweight is still Anderson Silva, while it’s unlikely that any welterweights will ever edge past Georges St-Pierre in the future. Demetrious Johnson famously put together eleven flyweight title defenses, meaning nobody is ever likely to surpass him, either.

In terms of the strawweight division, then, is it fair to say that Joanna Jedrzejczyk should be considered the GOAT? In all honesty, the answer is yes.

The Polish fighter won the UFC strawweight title in 2015 and went onto defend it successfully on five occasions, and even after losing it to Rose Namajunas, she was able to pick up victories over great fighters such as Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson.

The newly retired Joanna Jedrzejczyk breaks down in tears discussing what UFC has meant to her. 🥺#UFC275 | Full video: bit.ly/3NMzoiD https://t.co/3c1iXuCeXm

Even if she isn’t the GOAT, then she’s definitely in the conversation, and that means that she essentially has nothing left to prove by sticking around. For all intents and purposes, she’s already reached her goals. Therefore, it’s probably better that she walks away now.


#1. It's better to walk away when you're at the top than to fall any further

By walking away before she suffers too many bad losses, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has cemented her legacy
By walking away before she suffers too many bad losses, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has cemented her legacy

Over the years, we’ve seen countless numbers of once-great fighters in the UFC fall from grace and end up sliding down the rankings, often to the point where they’re almost considered a parody of their former selves.

B.J. Penn, for instance, became a UFC legend after claiming the welterweight and lightweight titles, but the Hawaiian ended his career on the back of a horrendous run of seven straight losses.

Former middleweight champ Anderson Silva ended up losing to the likes of Jared Cannonier and Uriah Hall, fighters he’d have comfortably dealt with in his prime. Meanwhile, former light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell suffered multiple embarrassing knockouts before finally hanging up his gloves.

On the other side of the coin, fighters who chose the right time to walk away are few and far between, with the likes of Daniel Cormier and Georges St-Pierre being two of the only names to come to mind in that sense.

However, by choosing to hang up her gloves after just two successive losses, Joanna Jedrzejczyk is highly likely to join that list. Essentially, the Polish star has chosen to walk away near the top of the strawweight division, rather than risk falling any further, something that would be possible were she to continue to fight.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk exits the octagon for the final time after retiring from MMA competition a KO loss to Zhang Weili. 🇵🇱#UFC275 | Full story: bit.ly/3xqGAdi https://t.co/59RnfNKlW0

Sure, the likes of Penn and Silva still have their legacies, but it’s hard not to see them as tainted in a way due to their later losses. By choosing to walk away now, Jedrzejczyk is ensuring that her legacy remains intact, and it’s the smartest decision she could’ve made.

Fight fans can check out the video below for additional updates in the MMA world:

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Edited by Harvey Leonard

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