Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight talents Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade dueled for the gold this past weekend (Sat., May 11, 2019) at UFC 237 from inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For an athlete only walking into her 12th professional fight, Namajunas has pretty much already seen it all. “Thug Rose” lost her first title shot in just her fourth pro fight, working her way back up the ranks in the next three years to regain No. 1 contender status. There was no stumble in her second opportunity, as she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk twice to claim the title.
While Namajunas was dealing with Jedrzejczyk and her back injuries, Andrade was running through top contenders like a hot knife through butter. Perhaps the most intimidating Strawweight on the roster, “Bate Estaca” has pummeled or slammed all of her recent competition. When Namajunas announced she was ready to return to the cage, there was a clear fight to make.
It lived up to the hype.
Namajunas opened the fight with remarkably accuracy. Andrade charged forward as everyone expected, but Namajunas danced around her, landing stinging jabs and leaving the Brazilian swinging at air. Andrade was not going to go away easily, however, as the Brazilian battled back with a pair of big takedowns. “Thug Rose” was unbothered, however, nearly sinking in an arm bar before landing a brief takedown of her own.
When the two returned to their feet, Namajunas’ jabs and counter hook continued to land with great consistency. On the other side, Andrade was still having difficulty landing punches, but her low kicks were beginning to dig into the thigh more often.
By the end of the round, Andrade’s face was badly bloodied, and the Brazilian was far behind.
Neither woman changed strategies; if anything, the two committed further. Namajunas’ jab was snapping back Andrade’s head with an unhealthy regularity, and when Namajunas did fully plant her feet to explode into power shots, they generally landed as well. However, Andrade really doubled down on the low kicks and body shots, which helped her goal of slowing Namajunas down majorly.
Several minutes into the round, Andrade managed to jam Namajunas into the fence with a single leg attempt. When Namajunas reached down to latch onto a kimura, Andrade switched her head position to the high-crotch position. From there, Namajunas continued to hang onto the submission hold, which makes it an extremely easy lift for Andrade.
“Bate Estaca,” or pile driver, did not fail to live up to her moniker. Andrade picked Namajunas up high into the air and brought her down directly onto the back of her head, ending the fight in sudden and violent fashion.
Both of these women should be proud of their performances. For Andrade, things were not going well at all. She was getting picked apart, and Namajunas’ shots were doing real damage. Fortunately, Andrade showed real composure in sticking to the game plan, forcing her way into the pocket with low kicks and body shots.
It was slight, but the momentum was shifting, and Andrade’s situation was improving before the sudden slam knockout. There was still a whole lot of time for Andrade’s bodywork and kicks to build up and take effect if the slam didn’t happen.
As for Namajunas, her kickboxing really is the division’s best; she’s not just a bad stylistic match up for Jedrzejczyk. She slid around the Octagon with extreme grace, picking her shots smartly and accurately, and did a lot of damage to a woman who generally looks unfazed while getting kicked in the face.
Unfortunately, it came down to a single bad mistake from Namajunas to hang onto the kimura. When hunting for the kimura, it must be understood that the outside single/high-crotch is a really bad position to finish. If you’re the fighter attacking the arm, it’s absolutely imperative to drop your weight and sit before the opponent starts to lift. Otherwise, the slam is going to happen, and your arms are too tied up to protect your face.
Realistically, Namajunas could have learned that lesson against many foes with fewer consequences, but Andrade’s raw strength made it quite the costly mistake.
Jessica Andrade captured the Strawweight title in vicious fashion. Who should Andrade face in her first title defense?
For complete UFC 237: “Namajunas vs. Andrade” results and play-by-play, click HERE!