Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight contenders Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres will rematch this Saturday (April 16, 2016) at UFC on FOX 19 inside Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Namajunas used a stellar run on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 to earn a title shot, but she ultimately came up short. However, "Thug Rose" has finished back-to-back fights and looked better than ever, so she's now looking for a second opportunity.
Torres, meanwhile, struggled a bit on TUF, but has been perfect in her professional career. She's never tasted defeat and holds a victory over Namajunas from early in their careers, but a second win would propel her to far greater heights.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both women:
Key Wins: Paige VanZant (UFC Fight Night 80), Randa Markos (TUF 20*), Angela Hill (UFC 192)
Key Losses: Tecia Torres (Invicta FC 4)
Keys to Victory: Namajunas is just 23 years old, and she's already a very well-rounded athlete. She comes from a Karate background -- which definitely shows in her kickboxing -- but Namajunas has won each of her fights via submission.
In this bout, the takedown will be very important for Namajunas. Though she's the more powerful striker and is not outmatched in that area, Torres is a smart fighter who knows how to win rounds with volume.
Torres has won each of her professional fights via decision.
While stunning her opponent with a punch or locking in a submission would be ideal, Namajunas needs to recognize that her opponent is tough and skilled. With that in mind, Namajunas' main objective should be to stay ahead in the takedown battle and maintain top position.
That's not to say that Namajunas shouldn't be hunting for the submission ... that's her forte. However, Namajunas needs to ensure that she's ahead on the scorecards and must avoid giving up top position in pursuit of the finish.
Key Wins: Rose Namajunas (Invicta FC 6), Paige VanZant (Invicta FC 4), Felice Herrig (Invicta FC 7)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Torres lives up to her moniker of "Tiny Tornado." Torres is a veteran striker with Karate and Muay Thai experience, and that results in her high-volume, swarming style of attack.
In addition, Torres has been more effective and active with her takedowns lately. After forcing her opponent to cover up under a flurry of blows, Torres drops down for a quick double leg.
That part of her game should be important here.
In order to defeat Namajunas, Torres has to outpoint her foe clearly. While she likely has the ability to land at a higher rate for most of the fight, that does leave her vulnerable to her opponent's takedowns.
Which would be a big problem.
Instead, Torres needs to take the initiative and take her opponent down. Namajunas may be dangerous from her back, but Torres survived her submission attempts last time and getting on top is the surest way to avoid being put on her back.
Bottom Line: This is almost certainly a title eliminator bout.
Namajunas is coming off the best performance in her career, which really reminded fans of just how talented she is. Plus, since there are so few contenders for the Strawweight belt, a finisher like Namajunas is never far off. With a win here, Namajunas has secured another title shot.
On the other hand, a loss does set Namajunas back a bit. Her record already isn't the prettiest, so Namajunas would likely need at least another two or three wins before she's back in this position.
At 23 years of age, that wouldn't be the worst thing.
Torres may not be wowing people with her victories, but she's clearly been winning her fights. A seven-fight win streak -- with three of them inside the Octagon -- is nothing to scoff at, so another victory over the fast-rising "Thug Rose" would be a major accomplishment for Torres.
Likely big enough to earn her a chance at the strap.
Alternatively, a loss is a considerable setback for the American Top Team-trained fighter. Since Torres style is not the most appealing, it will take another long win streak for her to get back into the immediate title mix.
At UFC on FOX 19, Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres will open the main card in a pivotal match up. Which woman will have her hand raised?