UFC 237’s main-event will see UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas make the second defence her title against powerful contender Jessica Andrade.
Many people forget that Rose Namajunas was one of two fighters to compete for the inaugural women’s strawweight title back in 2014.
As a relatively green 22-year-old submission fighter with a 2-1 pro-record, she was defeated by the far more experienced fighter in Carla Esparza but even then, it was clear that her potential would see her eventually see her fighting for gold again.
And while many people had high hopes for ‘Thug’ Rose during her rise, she managed to exceed even the loftiest of expectations by knocking out the consensus 115lb G.O.A.T Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the first-round at UFC 217.
Some called it a fluke, others called it a phenomenal performance but regardless of which side you fell on, Namajunas proved that she was the real deal when she outstruck the muay-thai veteran confidently in their UFC 223 rematch.
The first fighter to share the octagon with Rose not-named Joanna Jedrzejczyk will be Jessica Andrade – with their UFC 237 headliner set to stand as the champ’s first fight outside of the United States.
In taking on the Brazilian in Brazil, Rose is well and truly heading into enemy territory with this one and in Jessica Andrade, she will face off against a very unique threat to her throne in the context of the strawweight division.
Andrade has power in her hands unlike anything we’ve ever seen before at 115lbs. Her knockout of contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz left all of those watching in a state of shock – both as a result of the sheer brutality of the one-and-done shot to the Polish fighter’s dome, but also due to the fact that punching-power like that is truly a rarity in the division.
We all know that Andrade used to fight as a bantamweight – which is shocking when you think about it – but with this KO victory, I think it’s fair to say that she announced herself as the biggest threat to the champion there is.
Namajunas is far from a sitting duck in this one, though. Creative, crafty, and improving by the fight, the growth of Rose as a striker has perhaps been the most astounding thing about her recent run.
To go toe-to-toe with the great Jedrzecjzyk in the manner that she did proves that she too possesses genuine one-shot KO power.
There might be a difference in how that power comes into play, but we’ve got two proven finishers on our hands with this one.
Where Rose is an incredibly dynamic fighter who boasts a wide array of submissions in her arsenal, Jessica’s power is an x-factor that makes her a nightmare both on the feet and with her on top.
The champ will mix it up with technical striking and footwork, which will prove to be an intriguing counter to the contender’s constant forward movement and pressure.
We have an incredibly interesting stylistic clash on our hands with this one, folks, and even though I’m forced to make a call, this one could be a shut-out on either side.
Andrade can be stopped. We’ve seen Jedrzejczyk mute her offence sufficiently in the past to degrade her to a stubbornly one-dimensional punching bag.
But that pace and pressure is enough to break anyone at 115lbs and that’s very important to note.
Both fighters have improved tremendously in the last year or two so there’s every chance we see each come into this fight with a new level to their respective games.
So how do I see it playing out?
I think it’s easy to look at the power of Jessica Andrade and see it as the defining factor in this fight.
Knocking out Kowalkiewicz in the manner that she did was no doubt enough to strike fear into the hearts of all of those on the strawweight roster but if I had to guess, I think Namajunas’ technical advantage will be enough to keep her out of harm’s way.
I have her surviving a stubborn Andrade on her way to a comfortable unanimous decision win.
Prediction: Rose Namajunas by decision
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena