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‘Soul stealer’ Joanna Jedrzejczyk has earned the spotlight leading up to UFC 193




Though considered by some to be a “weak” card, this weekend’s UFC 193 offers the paying customer an awful lot of bang for their buck, though in completely different ways.

The spectrum of violence that champions Ronda Rousey and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (from here on referred to as “JJ” because I’m lazy) encompass is massive. Olympic level Judo on one end, world-class Muay Thai on the other.

While fans have welcomed the former Olympian Rousey with open arms, it’s still unclear how the mainstream world will receive JJ. In fact, they might not receive her at all. Though attractive in all aspects of the word, JJ is an acquired taste.

Her prefight antics are legendary, crafting unique “gifts” for challengers while taking on a very Gollum-like approach at weigh-ins. She walks out to the octagon blaring angry Polish rap, while inside the ring she brutalizes her opponents, breaking noses and jaws en route to TKO wins in her last two fights.

Where Rousey is calculated and subtle, JJ is brash and chaotic. She comes at you with knees, elbows, and fists until her opponent can barely stand and requires referee intervention to stop the onslaught.

Immediately afterwards, though, it’s back to smiles and sneakers. While just as dominant as Rousey, JJ represents something wholly different.

While Ronda shows up on red carpet premiers and magazine covers, JJ is the Polish sneaker-head who just wants to listen to gangster rap and punch girls all day.

In that sense, she’ll never receive the acclaim that Ronda has. She doesn’t have the “look” that American audiences seem to endear so much.

That’s not to say she won’t be successful, though. She’s already got UFC gold around her waist, and up to this point she hasn’t been challenged in any meaningful way during her reign.

Outside of the ring, she’s enjoying the fruits of her labor as well. Not only is she just the third ever European UFC champion, but she’s the first ever (aside from Irish mega-star Conor McGregor) to receive an exclusive deal with Reebok.

I bring up these differences only because the UFC would have you believe they’re long lost sisters.  “You like Ronda Rousey, right? Then you’ll love Joanna Champion!”

Except it’s not that easy. Casual mainstream fans like Ronda because she’s pretty. The fact that she can kill every woman on earth from 145 lbs on down is just a novelty, akin to the bear riding the unicycle at the fair.

On top of that, it’s easy to enjoy a Ronda fight. She comes in, she does work, and gets out all within the time span of an Instagram video.

In other words, she’s clean.

JJ is anything but clean. She steals girls’ souls inside the octagon, and does so with the calculated precision that only a world champion kickboxer is capable of. Fans clamoring for a fight between her and the UFC’s new “it-girl” Paige VanZant don’t realize how easily JJ could permanently rearrange “12 Gauge’s” features.

That’s part of the reason it will be so fun to see the casual fan’s reaction to this weekend’s co-main event between JJ and Valerie Letourneau. Soccer moms and other Rousey faithful will tune in to see how the blonde beast beats her next nobody, but will have to sit through JJ’s gory barrage in order to do so.

For some, it will be refreshing and exciting in a totally new way. For others, it may be disturbing.

Either way, though, JJ has earned this spotlight. It just remains to be seen how much blood she’ll be able to get out of Letourneau before they cut the lights at Etihad Stadium.

image via Getty