The motivation for Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s request to fight Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 213 might go back to their early fighting days.
That’s because Jedrzejczyk lost three muay Thai bouts to Shevchenko, starting 11 years ago, and she credits those defeats for her rise to the UFC strawweight championship.
“I thought I knew everything,” Jedrzejczyk, who hasn’t lost in 14 professional bouts, told MMAJunkie last year. “… But after I lost to Valentina, I realized that there’s a long way to go. I didn’t give up. The experience which I got that time — I just became a UFC champion because of that.”
Interestingly enough, Jedrzejczyk told MMAJunkie back then that “I don’t feel like I need to prove something for myself or to Valentina” by fighting her again. But on Saturday, Jedrzejczyk was “begging” to fight Shevchenko, according to UFC president Dana White, after Amanda Nunes pulled out of their bantamweight championship bout in Las Vegas. Alas, there wasn’t enough time for medical clearance to make the fight happen, even though Shevchenko also wanted it.
While the losses certainly could be motivation, maybe Jedrzejczyk was just trying to help someone whom she admires and was put in a tough spot with the last-day fight cancellation.
“I like Valentina,” Jedrzejczyk said last year. “We have so much respect for each other.”
Thumbnail photo via Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports Images