A few years ago, it wasn't up for debate who was the greatest UFC strawweight of all time. Joanna Jedrzejczyk clearly had that distinction.
But Rose Namajunas, the woman who dethroned Jedrzejczyk in 2017, has closed the gap in recent years - and arguably surpassed Jedrzejczyk as the best strawweight ever. Either way, with Namajunas recently claiming the UFC strawweight title for the second time, the debate between her and Jedrzejczyk is the most compelling it's ever been.
So, let's take a look at the best arguments for both Jedrzejczyk and Namajunas before determining who has the edge in the GOAT conversation.
Her longevity. She was the strawweight champion for over two and a half years, about one year longer than the second longest-reigning champion in Zhang Weili. During that time, Jedrzejczyk was one of the most dominant champions in the UFC and unbeatable in the eyes of many fans. When she finally lost the belt to Namajunas, it was one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Along with Jedrzejczyk's longevity comes a record number of title defenses. After battering Carla Esparza in 2015 to become the UFC's second 115-pound champion, Jedrzejczyk successfully defended her belt five times, the most in division history. She essentially beat all of the top strawweights in her era, from rival Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz to then-future champion Jessica Andrade. And most of the time, she beat them in lopsided fashion.
Jedrzejczyk also has the most wins in UFC strawweight history (10) and most appearances in strawweight title bouts (nine). The Poland native brought a level of dominance to the table during her title reign that no other strawweight has matched.
The fact she's beaten Jedrzejczyk twice and has several other big wins to back up those performances. Although Jedrzejczyk, 33, is five years older than Namajunas, 28, they're still contemporaries. They rose to the top of the division around the same time, so it's not as if Namajunas beat Jedrzejczyk at the tail end of the latter's prime. Jedrzejczyk has still looked sharp in her post-championship career.
Namajunas has recorded just one successful title defense and only has three appearances in strawweight title bouts, so Jedrzejczyk is clearly ahead of her in those categories. But her two wins over Jedrzejczyk - a first-round knockout in 2017 and a unanimous decision in 2018 - are significant and easily balance out Jedrzejczyk's longevity. When one fighter has two wins over another fighter, it seems pretty difficult not to pick the one who was victorious in a debate of who's greater.
Additionally, Namajunas is a two-time champion and the first woman in UFC history to win the same belt on two separate occasions. Jedrzejczyk attempted to become a two-time champ in the Namajunas rematch and then again versus Zhang in 2020, but she fell short by split decision in the consensus Fight of the Year. While Jedrzejczyk was only one scorecard away from accomplishing the feat, the fact that Namajunas was successful in becoming a two-time champ absolutely adds to her case of being the greatest strawweight of all time.
We're siding with Jedrzejczyk, ever so slightly. Namajunas might've had her number when they faced off in the Octagon, but Jedrzejczyk's five title defenses compared to Namajunas' one is too much of a disparity to ignore.
It should be noted that Namajunas could easily pass Jedrzejczyk in the GOAT conversation by the end of their respective careers. Jedrzejczyk isn't fighting regularly these days, and Namajunas will probably still be around by the time she's retired. Plus, Namajunas has greater opportunities to bring her legacy to new heights as the current champion. It would only take the 28-year-old a couple more title defenses to become the clear-cut greatest strawweight of all time.
But as of right now, thanks to her dominance between 2015-17, Jedrzejczyk edges out Namajunas as the best to ever do it at 115 pounds.