Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk looked to defend her crown opposite Rose Namajunas last night (Nov. 4, 2017) at UFC 217 inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
It’s the sign of a great champion when all of their performances begin to look similar. It means that champion has figured out something ahead of the curve, something her peers have yet to figure out despite repeated attempts. That’s all true of Jedrzejczyk, but the thing that truly separates her from the pack is that her similar performances all share a remarkably high level of violence.
“Thug Rose” stepped into the cage hoping to be the outlier. The fate of Jedrzejczyk’s fallen opponents is an unpleasant one, but Namajunas came into the bout with confidence that her jiu-jitsu and boxing would lead her to a different result.
Astonishingly, it did... easily.
Namajunas opened the fight with outside movement, looking to kick and counter her aggressive foe. She found her range first, scoring a couple nice shots, but Jedrzejczyk didn’t take long to begin attacking and landing as well.
Suddenly, a punch from Namajunas dropped her foe to the mat. Jedrzejczyk scrambled up pretty quickly and went back to her offense, seemingly undeterred. That was a mistake, as Namajunas loaded up on a left hook that crashed into the champion’s jawline. Jedrzejczyk fell to the mat, and a flurry of punches ended the bout.
It was shocking.
Namajunas won this bout with distance and speed. Her outside striking has looked great lately, but it’s easier to show that skill against people that are not Joanna Jedrzejczyk. It worked perfectly in this fight too.
To dethrone the queen, Namajunas maintained an extra step of distance. A lot of Jedrzejczyk’s punches and kicks came up short, and that was because Namajunas didn’t spend the fight trying to close the distance like all of her other opponents. Instead, she stuck to her game, which is range kickboxing.
Jedrzejczyk is unlike most everyone else in that she is never bothered by her opponent’s offense. Jedrzejczyk just keeps attacking, whether she misses a dozen shots or gets dropped. Usually, that allows her to overwhelm her foe with volume.
This time, it opened up the punches that earned Namajunas the title.
Moving forward, Namajunas is the 25 year old champion and a confirmed finisher. She has a great deal of potential to be a special champion, although her next title challenger is uncertain. Jessica Andrade and Karolina Kowalkiewicz are options, as is the fast-rising Cynthia Calvillo if she defeats Carla Esparza.
I have no real criticism to offer Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Like many great champions, she eventually lost her crown because a challenger turned her strength into a weakness. Jedrzejczyk is high-volume to an extraordinary degree, which both allows her to dominate and leaves her vulnerable.
Previously, Jedrzejczyk has been able to push past any bad moments to continue dominating. This time, her opponent was too focused and too well-trained.
Jedrzejczyk’s future is unclear. Retirement is definitely possible, as Jedrzejczyk has had a long combat sports career. A move to 125 lbs. is also an option, as Jedrzejczyk would be an instant title contender.
Is a rematch with Namajunas an option? Maybe, but it’s not an appealing one. In the fight game, it’s something of an unwritten rule that rematches rarely end well for the older fighter, particularly when the younger athlete wins the first bout. Jedrzejczyk is a special athlete who could make necessary adjustments, but the odds are stacked against her.
Last night, Rose Namajunas shocked the world with a first-round knockout win. Who should “Thug Rose” face in her first title defense?
For complete UFC 217 “Bisping vs St. Pierre” results and play-by-play, click HERE!