By Kaleb Page
March 20, 2015
The world of mixed martial arts is growing ever so rapidly across the globe. Today the ‘fight game’ can be found in every corner, whether it is in Iran, South Korea or Sweden; mixed martial arts is growing.
The UFC, which is essentially the NBA or NFL of mixed martial arts, is taking full advantage of this boom in the sport. Finding rising stars from Russia, Iran, Sweden, China, South Korea and elsewhere. While the time is coming to see these rising countries disperse throughout the divisions in the organization, and eventually take stake as title contenders, first time champions from established countries are still there too.
Poland has and continues to be an MMA prospect proving ground. The UFC has 10 Polish fighters already on the roster, and have recently added three more. As you can see the UFC is making its European expansion and making a big push at the best in Poland.
However, just last weekend a champion was crowned in a brand new division and that champion just so happens to be Polish. The UFC added the women’s strawweight division (115 lbs.) just this year and rising to the challenge was a former Muay Thai and kickboxing champion. Her name is Jonna Jedrzejczyk (Yed-zhey-chik) and her name is something you might want to get to know.
Just like Ronda Rousey who is in the UFC, Jedrzejczyk is undefeated (9-0) and looks like a dominant force to rule the division. As the first Polish champion (third ever European champion) in the UFC, the accomplishment is one that her country celebrated.
UFC president Dana White was very impressed with how Jedrzejczyk took on a veteran in Carla Esparza and made her look like an amateur.
“I like people who try to finish you. I’ve been on the Joanna bandwagon since day one. Coming into this fight, the thing for her was her takedown defense, and boy did she tune up her takedown defense. She’s a beast.” – UFC president Dana White
I think it was interesting to see the coverage by the likes of ESPN’s specialty section on women’s sports called ESPN W. Not very often are we seeing the UFC or much of anything done to make the sport more mainstream (a side from some Fox Sports pieces as the UFC is with Fox). There are great stories in the world of mixed martial arts to be told.
Even though it is a combat sport, there are more to these fighters than just the cage. That is why it is important to not only chronicle the hard-work, dedication and background of these fighters to get to where they are, but it is also important to get to make these athletes centerpieces like we do other athletes (making them more personable).
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is also another women’s sports story to follow and maybe use as something to build more equality for women in the sports world. Especially with her success in a male dominated sport that is just now beginning to accept female participation.
Maybe with more spotlight toward the success of female fighters like Rousey and Jedrzejczyk, it will provide for stronger role models in sport for young girls to look up to and challenge the sports spectrum.
As for now Jedrzejczyk will continue to ride this champions high as the UFC will host an event in Poland this weekend. In attendance will be the new champion of Poland, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.