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Playing the devil’s advocate – Why Joanna deserves the benefit of the doubt

Was Joanna portrayed unfairly during The Ultimate Fighter Season 23?

Joanna takes on Claudia later this week with the UFC Strawweight title on the line

While TUF 23 has finished airing its episodes in the United States, the UFC Strawweight champion obviously still has a thing or two to clear up. Joanna Jedrzejczyk believes that she wasn’t portrayed properly on the show, and has made an effort to let the world know how she feels.

During the recent media conference call, she reiterated her feelings about being made to look like a mean person, which according to her, is a fallacy.

Joanna then went on to say that she had a good rapport with the fighters of the opposing team, and was on good terms with her previous opponents. Everything boils down to the intense rivalry between Joanna and the number one contender, Claudia Gadelha, as they get ready to settle their difference in a week’s time.

“I respect her as a fighter, as my opponent. I said after our first fight that Claudia was still the number one (contender) for me, because at that time, I knew I was going to become the champ very soon”, Joanna said during the media call to promote TUF 23 finale.

Both the competitors obviously dislike each other, but there may be truth to what Joanna said.

Winning mentality and refusal to give up

Joanna’s case is similar in certain aspects to what the fans witnessed during Team Ronda Rousey versus Team Miesha Tate few years ago during the 18th edition of TUF. This led to Ronda’s popularity plummeting in the eyes of the fans, who got behind Miesha during their UFC 168 title fight.

However, Joanna’s case isn’t exactly the same; Joanna’s outbursts can be justified from the results and the way certain fighters performed during their fights.

Myron Dennis from Team Joanna fought Andrew Sanchez in a Light Heavyweight bout during one of the episodes. Myron, with his kickboxing background was going up against a high level wrestler, but failed to throw a good punch in the first couple of minutes in the opening round.

In the end, Andrew won the fight comfortably, which led to Joanna being hard on her fighters.

While certain words Joanna used (which cannot be written here) were harsh, they weren’t uncalled for. Losing 7 out of 8 fights, and that too against your greatest foe’s team warrants for tough love, and that is what Joanna dished out during the season.

It is understandable why the fans have turned on the champion, but as someone who has fought all her life to get to where she is at, one needs to see it from Joanna’s perspective too.

Hyping Joanna vs. Claudia – Using TUF 23 as a lead up to their fight

Every major fight needs a good lead up; from Cormier – Jones to Conor – Aldo, UFC has done everything in its power to build the high profile fights. In the past, UFC used TUF 18 to ensure that the fans get behind Miesha and Ronda Rousey.

With UFC Fight Night 90 and UFC 200 sandwiching TUF 23 finale, it was necessary for UFC to promote Claudia’s fight with Joanna.

In this age of sports entertainment, there has to be a protagonist and an antagonist leading up to a fight. The UFC used TUF 23 to build Joanna as the over-confident prude, who cared more about Claudia giving her respect than anything else.

However, the reality is much different. As Joanna said on the recent media call, all of her past opponents in the UFC gave Joanna her due respect.

Joanna is a serial winner. The current strawweight champion made it a habit to win, and even expressed her desire to move up to the flyweight division once UFC announces a championship bout for the new weight class.

Joanna wants to become the first woman to hold two championships in two different weight classes in the UFC.

Claudia was more hands on with her fighters during TUF 23, while Joanna necessarily wasn’t as cozy with her team. Every coach has their own way to mentor and deal with their fighters – it doesn’t necessarily make them bad or ineffective.

TUF 23 changed the lives and careers of a dozen fighters, and it also proved how a TV show can change the perspective of the fans. Joanna deserves the benefit of the doubt, as she looks to retain her title on July 8th. 

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