Joanna Jedrzejczyk striving to break into the mainstream

UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, left, faces fellow Poland native Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 205 in New York. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Rising to MMA's A-list is an inexact science. It takes more than results -- just ask UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.

Wins matter, sure, but so does style. Dominance with an edge plus some cocktail of aggression, unpredictability and overt hunger are shared attributes that helped Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey and Anderson Silva transcend the sport.

Standing at the velvet rope to that club's entrance is UFC women's strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-0), ESPN.com's No. 2 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world.

"I was super happy when I won the belt," the 29-year-old Jedrzejczyk said. "But you know what happened like two minutes after? I went to the backstage medical check and photo shoot, and my friend was like, 'You did it! You did it! Why are you not happy?'

"I was like, 'OK. It happened. I became world champion.' But now I have even more to prove every single day than I had before."

Jedrzejczyk defends her belt for a fourth time against Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0) at UFC 205 on Nov. 12. It's one of three title fights at Madison Square Garden, the promotion's first venture into New York City.

The countrywomen, who grew up 78 miles apart in Poland, met as amateurs in 2012. Jedrzejczyk won by rear-naked choke in the first round and made her pro debut 11 weeks later. She stressed that neither a common passport nor the previous in-cage encounter will have any bearing Nov. 12.

The champion offered a vivid sequence in which she sees things playing out in Manhattan.

"I want a mix between my fight with [Jessica] Penne and the fight with Carla Esparza," Jedrzejczyk said. "When she gets enough of my punches to her face, then she'll try to take me down, and I'll sprawl like I did in the fight with Carla Esparza. Then I will submit her with her broken nose and her full-of-blood face. I want to go there and put on the best fight I have ever done in the UFC."

That nonchalance is part of the reason "Joanna Violence" is gaining ground on "Joanna Champion" as Jedrzejczyk's unofficial moniker. She has dismantled recent challengers with precise, merciless kickboxing.

Jedrzejczyk's significant strike advantage in her three title defenses each rank in the top four all-time among UFC championship fights. That includes the bout against Valerie Letourneau in which Jedrzejczyk set the record with a plus-117 disparity. For her UFC career, she has landed 4.04 more strikes per minute than her opponents. According to FightMetric, that's the second-best differential in UFC history behind Cain Velasquez (plus-4.14).

Among current champions, only Jedrzejczyk (three) and Demetrious Johnson (nine) have active streaks longer than one title defense.

"The last few [UFC title] fights showed you must take this business so seriously," Jedrzejczyk said. "In one night, in one second, in one round you can lose your dreams, your goals, your belt ... You cannot stop; you cannot stay in one place if you want to get better.

"My biggest goal is to retire as an undefeated UFC champion."

Jedrzejczyk says that's part of the reason she switched her camp in late September to American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, from her home gym, Berkut Arrachion Olsztyn, in Poland. Access to a greater breadth of top-tier coaches, training partners and nutritionists all made South Florida favorable to Central Europe.

Jedrzejczyk also recognizes that more immediate access to American media and fans helps marketability as she strives to become one of the faces of the UFC.

The appreciation is there -- the ovation she received at UFC 200 serves as evidence. With the difficult-to-define recipe for superstardom, familiarity could be the only missing ingredient for Jedrzejczyk to break into the mainstream.

"I am the UFC world champion," she said. "Of course, I'm still Polish. I want to live there. I will do my camps in Florida. I will do more media in the U.S., then I will fly back home for a few weeks. I want to be focused on my career here. I want to become even more international than I am right now."