Joanna Jedrzejczyk looks back on humble past ahead of UFC 193 mega event

On Saturday, Joanna Jedrzejczyk will defend her world strawweight championship in front of as many as over 70,000 people in Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium as a part of the UFC 193 co-main event. As recently as a year and a half ago, however, she was fighting with much humbler surroundings in her native Poland.

Back in May of 2014, the striker fought Karla Benitez of Venezuela in Warsaw, in front of just a few hundred people. Still, she was happy to be doing what she loved.

"Two years ago I fought in Warsaw in a shopping mall," she recounted to members of the media, recently.

"The cage was so small, it was, I don’t know, one fourth of a UFC cage. There were maybe 300 people. It was more of a business meeting than a show (laughs). But, I had the co-main event fight. It was a good, good fight."

Now, Joanna Champion can look back at that night with a smile. After all, she won, and would soon be in the UFC.

"After that fight I had a fight with former UFC fighter Rosi Sexton, and then I got signed by the UFC," she continued.

"So I had pretty good memories with this small show. But, it was pretty funny." 

Now a bonafide budding international star, the sport’s first ever Polish world champion is looking forward to showcasing her skills on the biggest stage possible. She’s got a game opponent in Valerie Letourneau waiting to play spoiler, but the 28-year-old already has visions of glory in mind.

"It’s great. It’s going to be one of my best fights and moments for me in my fighting career," the long-time fighter admitted.

"I did almost a hundred Muay Thai fights but it’s going to be the biggest fight in my life. I’m very happy. I’m very excited. It’s amazing. I’m happy that the UFC is trusting us, the female fighters. We’re going to put on a show in Australia. I wish that in the future we’ll have more shows, maybe just with ladies."