Joanna Jedrzecjzyk weighed comeback as recently as UFC 299, but ‘I’m not going to fight in the UFC ever again’

Like most fighters, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has struggled to stay retired.

The former UFC strawweight champion called it a career in 2022 following a knockout loss to Zhang Weili in her attempt to secure another title shot at 115 pounds. Despite making the announcement to hang up her gloves, the now 36-year-old Poland native never quite gave up hope on competing again, and as recently as her appearance at UFC 299 this past weekend, she was still contemplating a comeback.

“I have to be honest with you, yes [I thought about fighting again],” Jedrzejczyk said on The MMA Hour. “Even a few days before the last show in Miami [at UFC 299], I was like trying to force my manager to let me go in. But my family, some of my fans and friends, they don’t want me to do this anymore. I’m like in between, but I’m not going to fight in the UFC ever again.”

Jedrzjeczyk confessed that the time immediately following her decision to retire hit her the hardest. She still felt like she was ready to fight again. She even went as far as traveling to Florida to train with her old coaches at American Top Team. But that trip also reminded her why she retired in the first place.

“Honestly, the first eight months after I retired were the most difficult months in my life probably,” Jedrzejcyzk revealed. “Because I was thinking everyday, I was even calling and texting [UFC CEO] Dana [White], [UFC COO] Hunter [Campbell], my manager, Dan Lambert, my family that I was going to come back.

“Actually, I went to the States — I don’t know if you saw, but I was back to American Top Team in January last year, and I was training really hard for four weeks. I was ready to schedule a fight, but then a super back injury came back, and I had to go through the medical procedure, and I’m still trying to get in shape after a year.”

During her UFC career, Jedrzejczyk was plagued with various back problems. The harsh realization that her body wasn’t going to allow her to fight again was a tough pill to swallow.

After dedicating so much of her life to combat sports, Jedrzejcyzk didn’t really know anything else, and walking away from fighting was probably the most difficult decision she’s ever made. To add to that, she admits getting back into training again wasn’t easy, especially after she stopped going through the rigorous training camps that ate up the majority of her time each and every year.

“It was super difficult, because the last 10 years, I was training two to three times a day for the last 20 years, and I went from three to zero for a few months,” Jedrzejczyk explained. “It was really difficult for my head, my body in general. It was super difficult. I’m getting better. I just got back on the mats, some jiu-jitsu training, Muay Thai.”

“From fight to fight, the camps are getting more and more difficult, physically and mentally. The thing is I don’t know how to go easy, I don’t know the shortcuts. I always go 100 percent. Somehow I miss this. I miss this s***** job, but I love it at the same time.”

In June, Jedrzejczyk becomes the latest inductee into the UFC Hall of Fame. She was emotional when the reveal of her induction was made earlier this month in Miami. Whenever she makes an appearance at an event like UFC 299, she’s often inundated with questions about a comeback and the fight she would pick if she came back again.

She has an answer prepared, even if she knows the fight will never actually happen.

“People used to ask me who I would love to fight, and I was always saying that they all want to fight me,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Because I felt I was the gatekeeper for big fights and big money, but of course, I was just joking. You know me, I always wanted to fight, no matter where and what time.

“I think people would love to see me and Mackenzie Dern. Typical fight between striker and a grappler. I respect Mackenzie so much. It will not happen.”

Jedrzejcyzk doesn’t live in absolutes, so she can’t say with 100 percent certainty that she’ll never get the itch to fight again. But chances are that feeling will never completely subside. One day, she might consider getting back into competitive martial arts again, but it’s highly unlikely she’ll ever actually return from retirement to fight again in the UFC.

“Right now, I will never fight again,” Jedrzejcyzk said. “Of course, like everything in our lives. I can change my mind. I could wake up tomorrow and say I’m not happy. Honestly, I’m happy with my life. I’m very happy as a woman. I’m human, a businesswoman.

“I hope I will stay retired forever. Maybe you’ll see me in some jiu-jitsu competitions one day.”

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