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UFC 223 card: Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk full fight preview

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MMA: UFC 217-Jedrzejczyk vs Namajunas Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight queen Rose Namajunas will look to defeat former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk once more this Saturday (April 7, 2018) at UFC 223 inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Namajunas was largely overlooked ahead of her first title match up with Jedrzejczyk. The general consensus was that Namajunas could win if she found a way to the Polish kickboxer’s back, but taking Jedrzejczyk down has historically been quite difficult.

Instead, Namajunas knocked her out cold.

Jedrzejczyk blames the loss and poor performance on a bad weight cut, which could well be a legitimate excuse, as she certainly didn’t look her best even before Namajunas began to land. Hopefully, the defeat sent Jedrzejczyk back to the drawing board, and she’ll return with a better plan this time.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each woman:

Rose Namajunas
Record: 7-3
Key Wins: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 217), Tecia Torres (UFC on FOX 19), Michelle Waterson (UFC on FOX 24), Paige VanZant (UFC Fight Night 80)
Key Losses: Carla Esparza (TUF 20 Finale), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 201), Tecia Torres (Invicta FC 4)
Keys to Victory: Namajunas never quite murdered anyone with her boxing like she did last time, but Namajunas’ growth on the feet has been consistent since her UFC debut. She works well at range with long, stabbing straight shots, hard kicks, and sudden flurries. Her improved range control and feints may have won her the belt, but it was her grappling that got her there, as most of “Thug Rose’s” victories come via tap out.

Everything went perfectly in the first fight for Namajunas. She made Jedrzejczyk miss more often than not by hanging far back, and Jedrzejczyk’s aggression did not allow her to wait. Instead, the Polish athlete kept trying to attack, wasting energy and allowed Namajunas to land counters and flurries.

The general strategy should be the exact same. Jedrzejczyk is not a reckless young fighter; aggression is the foundation of her game. If Namajunas plays range and stays patient, it will force Jedrzejczyk to adjust dramatically or suffer the same result.

VS.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Record: 14-1
Key Wins: Jessica Andrade (UFC 211), Claudia Gadelha (TUF 23 Finale, UFC on FOX 13), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 203), Carla Esparza (UFC 185)
Key Losses: Rose Namajunas (UFC 217)
Keys to Victory: Don’t let a single knockout loss allow you to forget Jedrzejczyk’s dominance. The Muay Thai striker brutalized all of her foe’s previous to Namajunas, setting absurd strike count records in the process and looking incredible right up until a bad performance at UFC 217.

In this bout, Jedrzejczyk must be smarter. She cannot chase after Namajunas with her hands when even her kicks are coming up short. Instead, Jedrzejczyk must focus on cutting off the cage, as close distance exchanges will favor the tighter punches of Jedrzejczyk.

Patience in general is key here. Jedrzejczyk is the better conditioned fighter by a wide margin, and allowing the first or second round to slip from her grasp on the judges’ scorecard is fine if that means the fight moves into the third.

In addition, punching into the clinch may be wise for Jedrzejczyk. It’s a risky proposition due to the takedown threat, but Jedrzejczyk is damn tough to take down. If she can grab the clinch and keep it, Namajunas has been worn down and beaten up from that position before.

Bottom Line: This is a more intriguing title rematch than most.

Namajunas is a special fighter, and her situation is unique. She utterly dominated Jedrzejczyk last time and won in the area where she was supposed to get beat up. However, she does still have just 10 pro fights on her record, one of which is a recent loss to a different top five contender.

Definitely great, definitely beatable.

Namajunas already put her name in the history books by dethroning Jedrzejczyk, but now she will determine her legacy further. A win sees Namajunas fully rise above the formerly dominant queen, similar to how Holloway surpassed Aldo in the opinions of many fans. A loss, alternatively, will see an eventual rubber match between the two that will determine things later.

Of course, the stakes are incredibly high for Jedrzejczyk as well. She did not get caught once and finished last time; Namajunas won nearly every exchange of the short fight. Jedrzejczyk must adjust significantly to her foe, which is difficult for such a veteran fighter set in their ways. If she can pull it off, Jedrzejczyk proves her resilience and skill even further, and once again Joanna “Champion” will sit the throne.

If not, Flyweight is the only reasonable option.

At UFC 223, Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will collide in the co-main event. Which athlete will leave with the belt?