On Saturday night at UFC 275, Joanna Jedrzejczyk suffered a brutal faceplant KO loss to Zhang Weili in their rematch. After the bout, the former long-time strawweight champion took her gloves off, left them on the canvas, and announced her retirement from professional competition.
The 35-year-old Polish fighter received nothing but well-wishes for what she had accomplished. But for someone who saw it up close like Hall-of-Famer Michael Bisping, it was quite an emotional turn of events.
Bisping, who was on commentary duties that night, gave his post-UFC 274 reactions in a recent YouTube video he uploaded.
“I was getting very emotional. It was incredible, ”he said. “What Joanna has done for the sport, what she has given to this sport, she came here, she’s been in so many entertaining fights. She’s given her heart, her soul. She’s talked a lot of shit along the way. She’s made a lot of money. She’s knocked a lot of people out. She’s delivered on the violence. She’s been a star.
“She has been a star for the UFC, and she has inspired so many female martial artists around the planet. Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s been there, done it. ”
Retirement thoughts were apparently already lingering in Jedrzejczyk’s mind before she stepped inside the Octagon that night in a pre-fight conversation with “The Count.”
“I asked her beforehand before the fight happened. I said, ‘Joanna, no disrespect. But if you lose this fight, what happens? Are you gonna retire? ‘ And she paused, and it went quiet. She thought about it for a long time, and he said, ‘Maybe,’ ”Bisping recalled.
“And when someone says that, it probably means that they will. And she did. She decided to hang it up, she took her gloves off, she put them down on the canvas. And I was emotional, I was almost in tears.
“’Cause to see a fighter, what they give of themselves, give a piece of their soul, a piece of their being, and to leave it in the Octagon… she’s provided so much entertainment over the years. She’s gonna be in the Hall-of-Fame, that’s without question. ”
Jedrzejczyk says she plans to still be involved with the sport as a fighter manager. She ended her MMA career with a record of 16-5, along with five successful title defenses as the undisputed 115-pound champion.