Women’s strawweight champion and pound-for-pound queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk has a solution on how to fix the gaping hole atop Saturday’s UFC 213 card in Las Vegas.
Just minutes after bantamweight champion Amanda Nunesagainst Valentina Shevchenko after being hospitalized for an illness, Jedrzejczyk reached out to UFC president Dana White to plead her case about becoming Nunes’ replacement.
Despite Jedrzejczyk’s boldness and the fact that she competes at a division 20 pounds south of 135 pounds, the idea of the fight isn’t that ridiculous. Both Jedrzejczyk (14-0) and Shevchenko (14-2) have competed at 125 pounds before coming to UFC and each fighter has shared interest in competing there once UFC adds the new flyweight division that White confirmed in May is coming.
In fact, both fighters have squared off before in Muay Thai competition more than a decade ago, with Shevchenko claiming three victories over Jedrzejczyk.
While it’s more of a pipe dream to imagine the fight getting sanctioned on just hours’ notice (or White agreeing to it in the first place), Jedrzejczyk did her best to apply pressure by sharing a video on Twitter aimed at UFC.
Shevchenko showed plenty of interest in the idea, tweeting out “Let’s do this today!” along with a trio of fist emojis. She later followed it up with a second plea to White.
But the loss of Saturday’s main event, which would’ve allowed the red-hot Shevchenko a shot at avenging her lone UFC defeat from 2016, furthered the notion that UFC 213 is a cursed card.
Not only did the original co-main event fall apart — a bantamweight championship match between Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw — Jon Jones’ one-year suspension kept him from being ready in time. Moreover, an injury to returning star Georges St-Pierre sidelined him from lending his star power to save the card.
In the end, a card which has become a focal point for UFC in recent years during International Fight Week, will come off as partially underwhelming, especially after losing a key welterweight bout between Donald Cerrone and former champion Robbie Lawler (which has been rescheduled to UFC 214).
Saturday’s co-main event of Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker for the interim middleweight championship will now top the card. Moving to the pay-per-view main card is a bantamweight bout between Rob Font and Douglas Silva de Andrade.
Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett told MMAFighting.com that it would be too late to approve any opponent to replace Nunes.
In the end, Jedrzejczyk receives bonus points from fans and the company for her fighting spirit, which has been on display throughout five dominant title defenses. Her goal remains to retire undefeated as a two-division champion and may just get that chance down the road against Shevchenko at 125 pounds.