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Champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk right where she wants to be defending title vs. Rose Namajunas at MSG


LAS VEGAS – Joanna Jedrzejczyk looked Rose Namajunas dead in the eyes and told her straight up, “I’m going to f*ck you up,” before kissing her own fist and extending it toward Namajunas’ face.

Take it as a sign this is exactly where the UFC strawweight champion wants to be.

Jedrzejczyk (14-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) will defend her title against Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2) at UFC 217 on Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York as she aims to make a little bit of history. And she told UFC President Dana White after her last title defense, a unanimous decision over Jessica Andrade, that the Big Apple is where she wanted to make it.

“I’m very happy that Dana agreed with me, and here we go,” Jedrzejczyk said during a press conference Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “I want to tie Ronda Rousey’s record of six title defenses (for a woman) and become the first female fighter with seven title fights. It’s a big deal.”

It also seems to have snuck up on Jedrzejczyk.

She became the second-ever strawweight champion in March 2015 with a dominant TKO of Carla Esparaza and has been unstoppable ever since. Now 30 and more than two years into her title reign, Jedrzejczyk is a bit more particular about when she fights, something she’s earned given how dominant she’s been.

“I like to plan my life. I like to plan my fighting career,” she said. “I’m not that young anymore. I used to fight every month. When I was competing in muay Thai, I used to do tournament after tournament. So, two, three fights in a year is really enough. …

“I beat all the challengers from top to bottom. Now it’s going to be my ninth fight in the UFC, and the time went so fast. I just work hard, and hard work pays off. That’s why I’m here, why I will fight at Madison Square Garden. We know that I can put on a show. It’s all about trust. I always prepare good. I put on good fights, and they can always count on me.”

And how does Jedrzejczyk feel about the woman standing in front of her?

“She’s very talented, she’s still young, but she’s getting closer and closer to this belt,” Jedrzejczyk said. “… Now it’s time for Rose.

“She’s very sneaky, very tricky,” she added. “We all know that her jiu-jitsu is on point.”

Namajunas, coming off a dominant submission win over Michelle Waterson in April, is flattered by nice words from the champion. But she’s coming in with a chip on her shoulder.

“I’m here to show everybody my skills and show everybody that I’m ready,” Namajunas said. “Everybody thinks that maybe I’m not all the way there mentally or whatever, like I got all the talent in the world but, ‘Oh, she’s this and that.’

“I’m just here to prove to everybody that I’m getting stronger every day with every experience. I’m becoming more poised, and my desire to win is growing more and more.”

Enough to dethrone the woman known as “Joanna Champion?” That remains to be seen.

For more on UFC 217, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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