Former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is open to moving up to flyweight to compete for the belt, she told ESPN on Monday. The expected matchup would be against Valentina Shevchenko, who was set to face then-champion Nicco Montano on Sept. 8 before Montano withdrew with health issues the day before. The UFC stripped Montano of the title, leaving a vacant spot atop the division.
“I’m always willing to fight, and the UFC knows it,” Jedrzejczyk said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “I’m open to move up and fight for the belt with Valentina Shevchenko. But we’ll see what’s going to happen. I cannot say yes, I cannot say no right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
When asked whether the UFC has reached out, she says “there is a big chance” that could happen soon.
“If [this fight] is going to happen, it’s going to be this year.”
Jedrzejczyk (15-2) won the UFC’s first strawweight belt back in 2015 and defended it five times before losing to Rose Namajunas at UFC 217 last November. She is 1-1 since, losing the immediate title rematch to Namajunas in April by unanimous decision but defeating Tecia Torres by unanimous decision in July.
Shevchenko (15-3) has fought most of her career at bantamweight. She faced Amanda Nunes for the belt at UFC 215 last September and lost by split decision. She subsequently moved down to her more natural flyweight and finished Priscila Cachoeira by second-round TKO in February.
Both fighters have history, as Jedrzejczyk and Shevchenko fought three times in Muay Thai early in their careers. Shevchenko won all three by decision.
“Valentina is a multiple-time Muay Thai world champion and me too,” Jedrzejczyk says. “[The UFC] knows we are serious with it, and we always put on great cards and great fights. That’s the point.
“The things that happened last year didn’t change my goals and dreams. I want to be a champion in two different divisions. It might happen soon.”
The move to flyweight would allow Jedrzejczyk to weigh 125 pounds instead of 115 pounds a day before the bout. Although she has never officially missed weight, the Poland native has admitted to having tough cuts in the past.
Before her bout with Namajunas at UFC 217, for example, she admitted to losing 15 pounds in 14 hours. She said it ended in a poor performance at Madison Square Garden the next night, and as a result she fired her nutritionists.
Jedrzejczyk told Helwani she weighed about 132 pounds at the start of her last camp for Torres this summer, making the 125-pound limit much more manageable. Nothing is finalized at this time, but she is interested in the title bout with Shevchenko.
“If people want it, if the UFC wants it, it will happen,” she says. “Hey Valentina, I know you’re open to fight me. I’m open to fight you. So let’s make it work.”