Joanna Jedrzejczyk climbs off her bike and wheels it through the doors of American Top Team (ATT), a mixed martial arts gym in Coconut Creek, Florida. She rides the four miles between her house and the gym more mornings than not.
With her dark hair pulled up in a high ponytail that sits to the left side of her head, and fingernails blazed pink, she doesn’t necessarily look like the dominant fighter she’s known to be. As a strawweight, her stature isn’t particularly imposing, and she projects kindness. She wears a royal-blue tank top and sky-colored shorts. She almost looks like she could be heading to the beach.
Jedrzejczyk smiles and waves before giving fist bumps to everyone in the lobby. She stops to sign a fan’s shirt and invites her to watch the morning’s sparring session.
Two massive posters hang on the wall, visible to all who enter the gym. One is from UFC 200, when ATT fighter and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes first won her belt against Miesha Tate. The other is from UFC 205 — the first UFC event at Madison Square Garden — which featured Jedrzejczyk along with ATT teammate and welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
Jedrzejczyk, 30, no longer goes by her full name on UFC fight posters; now she’s simply listed as “Joanna.” Since being crowned the strawweight champion in 2015, Jedrzejczyk (14-0) has defended her belt five times. If she does so for the sixth time against Rose Namajunas (6-3) at UFC 217 on Saturday, the feat would tie Ronda Rousey’s record of consecutive title defenses. Simply by stepping into the Octagon at Madison Square Garden this weekend, Jedrzejczyk will set the record for most title fights by a woman.
“Everyone knows who Joanna is,” UFC president Dana White says.