Changing of the Guard
UFC 275 gave us so many electrifying moments that we cherished as fans of mixed martial arts. The main event between Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka becoming an all-time classic, the unexpectedly tough challenge for Valentina Shevchenko from Taila Santos, the highlight reel spinning back fist finish by Weili Zhang, and the emotional announcement of the long-reigning former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk after her loss to Zhang.
Leaving a Legacy
Jedrzejczyk’s retirement from MMA competition will affect the UFC landscape. Even though she wasn’t as active towards the end of her career, all of her fights were extremely impactful for women’s MMA. Not only did she always fight high-ranking opponents such as Michelle Waterson and Tecia Torres, she was part of many classic fights in her unsuccessful journey to recapture her title against Rose Namajunas and Weili Zhang. Let’s not forget that she was going for UFC immortality by moving up a weight class and fighting for the vacant 125-pound title against Valentina Shevchenko. No matter who her opponent was or where she was fighting, Jedrzejczyk always had many fans around the world watching her when she stepped into the Octagon. The absence of this important figure for women’s MMA will definitely leave a void for MMA, but her retirement may be part of something bigger.
— 𝕯𝖆𝖓𝖌𝖊𝖗 𝕸𝖔𝖚𝖘𝖊 ➐ (@DangerMouxe) June 12, 2022
An Era Ending
We might be witnessing the passing of the torch for many fighters who are part of the key groups that propelled UFC into the mainstream around 2015. Many of those fans grew up watching Joanna reigning over the 115-pound weight class during that time and now retiring in 2022. Also retired in 2022, just the past couple of months ago, are former strawweight contender and title challenger Claudia Gadelha and UFC veteran Felice Herrig.
In addition, fans and media are constantly talking about the future plans of Tony Ferguson and Frankie Edgar, a pair of fighters who were pivotal figures for their respective weight classes and were at the pinnacle of their careers around the same time as Jedrzejczyk. Fans are also persistently questioning how many more fights Conor McGregor has in him, a figure who started the UFC’s entrance into mainstream culture.
All sports have eras that are defined by the athletes who are in each respective period, so seeing a changing of the guard like this is only natural. However, since MMA is so new, many fans are experiencing this type of shift for the first time. Witnessing this journey of old faces appearing less and less and new fighters gaining prominence and being inspired by those legends in the past will be very interesting as a fan of this sport.