Every fighter believes they have one more good one in them. Nobody wants to walk away after a loss. But sometimes that is just the last stop on their ride. Time as Rocky Balboa once said is "undefeated, it takes everyone out".
Joanna Jedrzejczyk has had an amazing run. Multiple World Muay-Thai championships, and an 8-0 streak before even entering the octagon. She then went on to cut through the UFC's new strawweight division eight more times like a hot knife through butter. She pressed forward with a flurry never taking a step back.
But then it all changed when her psychological warfare didn't work on the zen-like mind of Rose Namajunas. Now was there outside forces working against her? Yeah possibly, maybe. Let's take her at her word there. After the back-to-back hard to take losses to "THUG ROSE", is what is more concerning.
Sure fighters flip-flop wins and losses all the time. But it's the how, and to who that are more concerning. Showing up in classic Joanna Champion versus Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson are solid wins, yes. But to be fair; both are second tier fighters. Surrounded by losses to Valentina Shevchenko and most recently Weili Zhang is scary.
It's absolutely true that Bullet and Zhang are top of the heap fighters. But can the former champion ever retain the strap. At 125; a weight that she would be better at, especially for health reasons; no. Valentina is on such a roll she could very well do to female flyweight what Demetrious Johnson did for the men's. So that title is out. And after all, a belt and all that come along with it is why fighters fight in the first place. So back to 115. With her mind back to being happy, and solid nutrition she's solid. However solid might not cut it anymore.
Weili proved in the war with Joanna she can trade and not just over power someone. They cracked each other more than 100 times each just in head strikes. Wars like that take years off a fighter's life. They leave the octagon never to be the same again. Take a look at Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald 2; arguably the best UFC war ever. At least until the ladies played rock em sock em robot at UFC 248. Lawler and Rory have both been different fighters since. Look at the wars Chuck Liddell, and Diego Sanchez went through for example, and there's countless others. Yes physical heals in time, but internal never does.
Just recently Joanna posted on her social media pictures of herself. The swollen head has gone down, the eyes are still a little black and blue, and you can bet there's still body soreness. The fact of the matter is the division has caught up with her. Zhang, Rose, Tatiana Suarez, all are on the up swing. Even Jessica Andrade and Claudia Gadelha who she's beaten are vastly improved fighters right now. So the likelihood she regains a belt is a stretch.
Right now, Jedrzejczyk has the money, and the opportunities to grow into a celebrity are showing themselves. There is no longer a reason to fight. Especially with a fighters end game being so hard to reach. It's not like she will suddenly stop training and gain 300 pounds. Martial Arts training will forever be a part of her life. It's better to walk away the way athletes like Jim Brown and Barry Sanders did. A bit too soon than hang on way too long, like a Steve Carlton or a BJ Penn. And that's something that absolutely needs to be avoided at all costs. Nobody needs to see a Joanna shell of herself getting bashed. MMA goals accomplished, it's time to move on.Published 21 Mar 2020, 07:01 IST