Former UFC strawweight queen, Joanna Jȩdrzejczyk has squashed recent rumours of a potential retirement from mixed martial arts following her March decision defeat to current division best, Zhang Weili – announcing plans for a return to the Octagon at some stage next year to boot.

The Polish Muay Thai ace was involved in arguably the most entertaining female mixed martial arts fights in the sport’s history at UFC 248 in March – dropping a razor-thin split decision loss to Chinese sensation, Weili in an attempt to regain the strawweight throne.

Jȩdrzejczyk, who plys her trade out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida under former WEC featherweight best, Mike Brown has yet to feature in the Octagon since then and remains in her native Poland amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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The 33-year-old Olsztyn-born striker was the subject of rumours speculating a potential surprising retirement from the sport but insisted that’s not the case, earmarking plans to first return to the ‘Sunshine State’ before a return to the Octagon next year.

Because of the COVID(-19) situation, somehow, I can’t go back to the (United) States,” Jȩdrzejczyk told the UFC’s Laura Sanko during a recent live interview. “I don’t see myself preparing in Poland or somewhere outside of American Top Team without Mikey Brown, Katel Kubis, American Top Team in general. I love these people. They are my team. I think it will be back next year.

I was planning to get back to the States in the middle of this year, October, the end of this year but probably it’s going to be January. I’m training. I’m training every single day. I train every day. I do lots of cardio, lots of Jiu-Jitsu, lots of boxing. So I keep on rolling every single day and hustling every day.

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Refuting claims she had hung up her gloves, Jȩdrzejczyk explained how she’s “living my (her) best life” and hasn’t decided to walk away from the sport.

I’m living my best life,” Jȩdrzejczyk explained. “I’m living my dream. As you know, I was always busy and I’m very happy. I’m still fighting. I’m not retired. So many people on my social media they’re commentating that I’m retired, they’re asking but I’m not. I’m just taking my time.

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The former dominant strawweight best maintained that her return to the Octagon would more than likely coincide with the return of fans to live events. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced the promotion to host events to a closed gate, with the Pole explaining how she doesn’t envision a return without them in attendance.

I don’t see myself fighting without fans, without an audience,” Jȩdrzejczyk said. “You know how I interact with people. I don’t see myself fighting without fans. There is no sport without fans, any sport. I want my people to watch me live and support me. I just need it. I need this energy from people. This atmosphere always makes me feel so good.” (H/T MMA Fighting)

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Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.