clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UFC 251 card: Jessica Andrade vs Rose Namajunas 2 full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight rivals Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas will rematch this Saturday (July 11, 2020) at UFC 251 from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Time flies ... It’s been nearly one year since Andrade coughed up her title to Weili Zhang via shocking first-round knockout (watch highlights). Just four months before that, Andrade grabbed the strap herself by slamming Namajunas into dust (watch it) and dethroning “Thug Rose.” Even to this day, there are misconceptions and debates about the first bout, about who was winning and when. Hopefully, some of that will be put to bed with this rematch, which also carries serious implications regarding Zhang’s next foe.

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

Jessica Andrade

Record: 20-7
Key Wins: Rose Namajunas (UFC 237), 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: Weili Zhang (UFC Fight Night 157), Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 211)
Keys to Victory: Andrade is a tank. “Bate Estaca” walks through her opponents’ offense with power punches and slams, drowning her foes in volume and exhaustion. However, there is also nuance to her game.

Last time, Andrade’s strategy worked perfectly. Namajunas’ quick hands and fast feet allowed her to land very well early, but Andrade was playing the long game. She ripped punches to the mid-section, kicked her opponents legs as Namajunas’ circled, and slammed her foe a number of times even before the finish.

By the second, Namajunas was slowing down, and Andrade was landing more. It was excellent strategy.

There is just one adjustment to make: this bout is three rounds (not five). Andrade has no time to waste in starting her war of attrition, so she must target the body and legs as early and often as possible. Prolonged wrestling exchanges are also great for destroying quickness, which will help Andrade track her opponent down.

Body shots, low kicks and takedowns can once again turn the tide, so long as Andrade is urgent.

Rose Namajunas

Record: 8-4
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: Jessica Andrade (UFC 237), Carla Esparza (TUF 20 Finale), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 201), Tecia Torres (Invicta FC 4)
Keys to Victory: Namajunas started as a submission ace with funky kicks, but she’s grown into so much more. “Thug Rose” is still nasty on the mat, but she’s also one of her division’s slickest boxers, ability to absolutely befuddle her foes with movement and feints.

Andrade is a serious test, and Namajunas knows better than anyone else just how dangerous Andrade can be. However, she’s also a fairly straight forward one. Andrade is not hard to hit, and she attacks on straight lines. Backing off at an angle and countering her has proven easy for a number of Andrade opponents.

That doesn’t mean it is always a good idea. Against everyone but Zhang, Andrade eats punches like cupcakes. She’s happy to take three to the jaw and trade one to the liver. Should it work? Probably not, but there’s a reason Andrade won the title.

To avoid a similar outcome, Namajunas should play it a bit safer. Putting more emphasis on footwork and evasion than offense may not pump up any fans, but it’s better than fatiguing and getting blasted through the canvas.

Limiting exchanges and managing energy will be the biggest overall key for “Thug Rose.”

Bottom Line

This is a hugely important bout for the women’s Strawweight division.

Andrade got knocked out by Zhang almost immediately. That’s never a great outcome, but at least it’s one that still leaves behind a bit of mystery. What if Andrade were able to score a takedown? What if she dragged the bout into later rounds? Questions still remain regarding a potential rematch with Zhang, so while Andrade may not earn such an opportunity immediate, a win puts her close.

Win or lose, the road to the Flyweight belt is never long, so that’s always an option for Andrade, too.

As for Namajunas, there has already been plenty of talk about Namajunas fighting Zhang next. That’s an excellent title fight, one that pretty much sells itself. If Namajunas wins this bout, it’s the logical next move, particularly since Tatiana Suarez is still sidelined with an injury.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 251 fight card this weekend RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the ESPN portion at 8 p.m. before the PPV main card start time on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 251: “Usman vs. Masvidal” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC 251, Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas will go to war once more. Which women will earn the victory?