Former strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk has received an outpouring of support following her retirement at UFC 275, and one of her biggest rivals has weighed in on the Polish forward’s legacy.
Speaking at the post-fight press conference after her narrow split decision victory over Taila Santos, flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko was asked to reflect on Joanna’s career.
“I think of Joanna that she is (a real) martial artist,” Shevchenko said. “And she’s been doing martial arts for so many years, and it’s amazing. She’s an incredible example to a lot of people, an inspiration to a lot of women to do martial arts, to be successful, to be powerful . “
Jędrzejczyk received well wishes from all over the MMA world after UFC 275, but few are as qualified to speak about his legacy as Shevchenko. The two faced off several times in Muay Thai competition, and their MMA careers finally overlapped at UFC 231.
“And you know, in our lives, we have this person that we go parallel with all the time. (I know) Joanna since 2006. This is the first time that we fight together. We were always opponents: in my Muay Thai career – even here in the UFC we fought.
Shevchenko won a unanimous decision in their fight at UFC 231 and won the flyweight title which she has now defended 7 times. Regardless of the results of their fight, Shevchenko believes his fights with Joanna have cultivated mutual respect over the years.
“But this rivalry has earned us respect for each other. I know how hard she worked. I know how dedicated she (is) as a person. And I just have real respect ( for) her, and she deserves all the love (from) the fans. And this is another chapter of her career, and I think she (will) have the same success that she (had) in martial arts.
What do you think of Shevchenko’s comments on Joanna’s legacy as a fighter and champion?