Joanna Jedrzejczyk had excellent returned to her locker room after a brutal fight with Zhang Weili at UFC 248.
Jedrzejczyk had fought to the stay in what was, in response to UFC president Dana White, “one in all the most interesting” contests in MMA history.
The Polish fighter knew her face was disfigured. She excellent didn’t realise excellent how indispensable except she regarded within the mirror.
“I was like ‘holy moly’,” she urged BBC Sport. “I gave the look of a zombie.”
‘JJ’ had a gruesome swelling on her brow. One of her eyes had swollen shut. She had suffered a extensive haematoma.
Her twin sister needed to aid her take a bathe prior to the fighter, 32, spent the night time in a Las Vegas smartly being facility.
“At some point soon I journey to put up photos of how I regarded,” she mentioned. “It was so laughable; some people didn’t even recognise me.”
Fortunately she can laugh about it now; the stay consequence smooth hurts, although.
Already notion to be an MMA nice, Jedrzejczyk aimed to fetch the strawweight title on 7 March from Weili, who was making her first defence after changing into China’s first UFC champion.
Weili’s keen peer closed up early, then Jedrzejczyk’s foreheadstarted swelling within the third round. The swollen allotment acquired so gargantuan that her physio was bowled over it would maybe burst. “It would maybe’ve scarred half my face,” mentioned Jedrzejczyk.
“It wassopainful. For a split-second, I wondered if I must smooth stop, but I was smooth going ahead.”
The pair traded blows for 5 rounds. In 25 minutes they exchanged 351 primary strikes – the third-most in UFC history. Jedrzejczyk threw more, 186 truly – the most ever in a UFC defeat – asWeili clinched a split resolution.
No subject the swelling, the Pole didn’t endure any eternal damage – but for a “damaged heart and a scar on my soul”.
Interior two days, the swelling had long gone. At one point, the bruising nearly covered her entire face – but interior three weeks that had cleared too.
“I knew I would maybe additionally heal,” Jedrzejczyk mentioned. “I was more mad at myself because I needed to own a couple of nice days in Vegas with my guests and household! Nonetheless here’s the cost we pay. I have been doing this for 17 years so I do know the game.”
Jedrzejczyk’s path to UFC began when she tried kick-boxing to lose weight and “fell in esteem” with it,changing into a a couple of Muay Thai world championprior to switching to MMA in 2012.
“I are attempting to divulge myself,” she mentioned. “Limits are most interesting in our heads, and each day I was engaged on the brink. Every day I faced my fears.
“MMA’s violent, but or now not it is miles never excellent about smashing people. For me, or now not it is about the game, the competition, the honor.”
Taking excellent care of herself – and her future – diagram quite a bit to Jedrzejczyk. If the temper takes her, she’ll place apart on a costume and excessive heels for UFC events.
“I’m an athlete but I’m a lady too and I own to witness like one,” she mentioned. “This sport can substitute your body and your thoughts, and or now not it is miles a gargantuan thing for females. I’m cheerful the UFC take correct care of us because in due course I ought to be a mum and a businesswoman.”
One witness ather Instagram– which lists her sponsorship deals – tells you she’s already industrial savvy, but she hopes to await an MBA and delight in a coffee store. For the period of the lockdown, she has started Spanish and piano lessons.
“Thereislifestyles originate air the gymnasium,” she added. “My supreme opponent is time because there are most interesting 24 hours within the day and I even own so many issues occurring.
“I’m excellent attempting to live my most interesting lifestyles. In or out of the cage, with or with out the belt, I elevate myself as a champ and work on my legacy, each day.”
She’s also caught up with James Arthur. The British singer-songwriter spotted her name while doing an Instagram Dwell and gave her a cry-out, announcing she’s “one in all my authorized sportspeople within the sphere”.
They’ve saved fervent since Jedrzejczyk messaged Arthur to boom the trot-out tune for her fight with Michelle Waterson final October would be ‘Lend a hand from the Edge’, the title discover of his 2016 album.
“I love his lyrics and how he’s, he’s a nice guy,” she mentioned. “We strengthen every various. It took alengthy jog to be where he’s.Tune and sport are the identical, and for these who would maybe additionally very smartly be attempting to ought to be, boom, an actor, a lawyer or a surgeon – or now not it is miles a must to trust in yourself and work now not easy.”
That tune need was valid. Jedrzejczyk had misplaced three of her previous four fights. Nonetheless victory over Waterson and her performance in opposition to Weili diagram her UFC legacy hasn’t been written excellent yet.
“It confirmed that I’m smooth one in all the most interesting,” she mentioned. “I was the champ for a aim, I’m smooth competing at a championship level and people own to witness a rematch. I will almost definitely be support.”