Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight elites Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade will clash TONIGHT (May 11, 2019) at UFC 237 from inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Namajunas pulled through as a massive underdog to dethrone Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2017 then destroyed all doubts by doing it once more last year. Unfortunately, back injuries kept “Thug Rose” away from the Octagon for the previous 13 months, but Namajunas will look to make it all up to fight fans by dispatching a scary contender in her foe’s backyard. In the 24 months since her first attempt at the title, Andrade has done a remarkable job of earning a second opportunity. Faced with a trio of fellow contenders in the top five, Andrade absolutely dominated each of her foes, winning her most recent bout with perhaps the best one-shot KO in Strawweight history.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 223, 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 has grown into quite the technician, combining her traditional martial arts skill with improved footwork and boxing to create a mix potent enough to dethrone Jedrzejczyk. All the same, the majority of Namajunas’ finishes come via submission, as she’s particularly opportunistic on the mat.
The single most important factor for Namajunas is range control. Andrade is going to charge forward in a straight line, attempting to rush Namajunas into the fence with wide hooks and takedown attempts. Lateral movement is the proven answer to Andrade’s blitz, and Namajunas has proven rather effective at circling her feet while landing counter punches.
However, that’s not enough. Andrade is an opponent who’s able to suddenly take over given the smallest window — a few body shots can sap a foe’s energy and throw footwork out the window. Namajunas has to be perfect in avoiding the pocket; she cannot hang around too long to counter or pursue the clinch at any point.
Namajunas can dominate this fight at distance, but she cannot allow the fight to go anywhere else.
Key Wins: Claudia Gadelha (UFC Fight Night 117), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 228), Tecia Torres (UFC on FOX 28), Joanne Calderwood (UFC 205), Angela Hill (UFC Fight Night 104)
Key Losses: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 211), Raquel Pennington (UFC 191), Marion Reneau (UFC Fight Night 61)
Keys to Victory: Andrade spent a majority of her career overpowering far bigger foes as a Bantamweight, but the opening of the Strawweight division allowed Andrade to thrive as a contender. Since dropping down, Andrade’s powerful punches and takedowns have seen her dominate each opponent apart from Jedrzejczyk, the former champion.
Andrade pretty much fights the same way in every fight, looking to overwhelm her opponents with constant pressure and pure physicality. Namajunas may prove to be more difficult to track down than most, however, so for that reason, hopefully Andrade at least makes the effort to close distance a bit smarter.
Aside from more kicks — which help pin a fighter in place to block and can be followed up by the usual swarm of hooks — Andrade just needs to do a better job of understanding when she’s in range. Oftentimes, the first couple punches thrown are from way outside of range, where it’s obvious that Andrade will hit nothing but air. She might land with the next few punches, but those wide early misses leave her very open to counter shots.
If Andrade makes it a point to close distance with her legs then explode forward into a crazy combo, she’ll eat fewer shots and land more often.
Bottom Line: This is an excellent title bout that features a fun clash of smart strategy and technique against power and aggression.
At 26 years of age, Namajunas is an undisputed champion with a title defense under her belt, the only woman in history to defeat Jedrzejczyk at 115 pounds. She’s already accomplish great things, but given her age and technical abilities, the sky is truly the limit for Namajunas’ potential accomplishments if she can stay healthy. In a turn of events that is both fortuitous and dangerous, the Strawweight division does have some excellent contenders right now, meaning Namajunas has the opportunity to build her resume quickly.
Turning away Andrade and ending her current win streak would be a hell of a feather in her cap.
Just 27 years old herself, Andrade is already a remarkable talent. Simple or no, Andrade fully understands her game and where she wants the fight, forcing her opponent to engage constantly and deal with her strength. Her recent win streak is pretty incredible, perhaps the best in the division’s history aside from Jedrzejczyk’s title reign. To cap it off in Brazil would be a remarkable moment for “Bate Estaca,” who would still have some serious challenges ahead of her at 115 pounds.
At UFC 237, Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade will go to war in the main event. Which woman will leave the cage strapped with gold?