UFC strawweight world champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is exactly what the UFC needs. She is boisterous, talented and fun. Where the current landscape of champions, aside from Ronda Rousey, are businesslike, Jedrzejczyk is a refreshing break from this mold.
Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw, Jose Aldo, Rafael dos Anjos, Robbie Lawler, Chris Weidman and Cain Velasquez are all extremely talented. They are fun to watch in the cage, but outside of the cage they lack something. Rarely do we get excited about what they do outside of their actual fight.
There is a lack of charisma at the championship level.
Does dos Anjos really excite you? Does Lawler show you charisma? No. They are excellent fighters, but fighters that don't connect on that next level. Even Weidman fails at meeting that mark. Jon Jones, for better or worse, had that quality, but his transgressions keep him out of this discussion. Conor McGregor would quickly top this list should he defeat Aldo, but we aren't there quite yet.
Rousey and Jedrzejczyk are the exceptions to this current run of champion, but they are vastly different.
Rousey is special. Without question. However, we are mostly enamored at the way she can flip the switch to being one of the most terrifying people on the planet. When she is focused on destroying someone, we sit on the edge of our seat and anxiously await how she will do it.
The bantamweight champion talks trash very well, but it is more matter-of-fact than showman. Jedrzejczyk is different.
Jedrzejczyk started to show her ability to be entertaining during the press conferences for her title fight against Carla Esparza. She went right after the then-champion. Jedrzejczyk was intense and made no bones about the fact she was the No. 1 fighter in that division. She proved it in the cage with yet another incredible performance.
Jedrzejczyk's personality also shines through her Instagram posts. It showcases a different side of the champion.
She's silly and stylish. She's endearing.
It makes her the most important champion the UFC has. Yes, even over Rousey.
Will she ever be as big a star as Rousey? No. Rousey broke the glass ceiling and is a true crossover star. And that's great. But she is at her peak popularity. She is still an incredibly influential individual, but Jedrzejczyk is more important. She is able to connect through her personality to a whole new set of fans. As the UFC eyes more Eastern European events, a champion like Jedrzejczyk can reach that new audience.
The current slate of champions is bland. Many have taken to wearing a suit and tie to look professional, but they forget to sell themselves and the fights they have. Outside of the cage, the best word to describe the champions is “blah.” They're mundane.
Jedrzejczyk, thankfully, is a breath of fresh air.
She has “It.” She makes us smile and want to see her compete. She is the champion of a difficult division but if she can continue to sit atop the mountain, she will only become a bigger figure in the sport. The UFC needs that.
Jedrzejczyk is the champion the UFC needs. Someone who is not just business-like and shies away from the media. She is someone who embraces the spotlight and shines beneath it.