Joanna Jedrzejczyk has plenty of experience against Valentina Shevchenko despite the fact that they are meeting in the UFC for the first time this Saturday night.
Long before Jedrzejczyk was a multi-time defending UFC champion and Shevchenko was a top ranked contender, both were competing in Muay Thai tournaments across the globe.
On three previous occasions, Jedrzejczyk met Shevchenko in Muay Thai fights but she ultimately fell to her during each of those meetings.
While it seems like a lifetime ago now with their last fight taking place a decade ago, Jedrzejczyk can still vividly remember those encounters as she was attempting to rise up the ranks in Muay Thai before turning to mixed martial arts.
“The first fight, she won the first fight it was in like 2006,” Jedrzejczyk explained when speaking to MMAWeekly. “I was training only two years at that time and I went to the World Championships in Thailand and I thought that I was going to rule the world and win. It was a big lesson for me and I was back the next year and two years after. Our last two fights were pretty close. The last fight in 2008 in Korea was really close. She’s a tough chick, not only physically but mentally as well.
“Her style, she’s very strong, but her style of fighting in Muay Thai, she was very successful because she was grabbing the leg and trying to sweep you and throw you down. You don’t score points when you throw someone down in Muay Thai. The judges saw that she was stronger and they scored it, which is kind of bulls–t. Because they don’t score the takedowns because there are no takedowns. It was this kind of fight.”
As much as Jedrzejczyk hates losing in any kind of competition, she put her Muay Thai career behind her long ago and those fights really have no impact on the matchup she’s about to face with Shevchenko at UFC 231.
While she might remember those fights, Jedrzejczyk refutes claims from Shevchenko that she’s still haunted from those past experiences as they prepare to meet in a fight that will crown a new UFC women’s flyweight champion.
There’s little doubt the three previous Muay Thai fights between the two top contenders are going to be part of the story leading into UFC 231.
That said, Jedrzejczyk has much more important things on her mind rather than some ill fated sense of vengeance from fights that took place in a different sport more than 10 years ago.
“For me, it’s a totally new, different challenge,” Jedrzejczyk said. “That’s it.”
Rather than focus on a trio of fights against Shevchenko from the past, Jedrzejczyk is only thinking about the present and the legacy she’s going to cement by becoming the first woman in UFC history to hold titles in two different weight classes.
“I’m making history,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I’m facing Valentina Shevchenko for the vacant belt in the flyweight division. That’s a big thing. Fighting for the belt, fighting for the UFC championship belt it’s a big deal. There’s not too many fighters who can do that.
“There are going to be challengers and there are going to be champions and I am doing this. I’m doing this again. It means a lot.”