Following one of 2017’s most impressive MMA upsets when Rose Namajunas knocked out Joanna Jedrzejczyk to steal the women’s strawweight title at UFC 217, the two top 115-pound fighters in the UFC met in a rematch in the co-main event of tonight’s (Sat., April 7, 2018) UFC 223 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Formerly dominant champ Jedrzejczyk brought in the sting of her first-ever loss in a bout before which she attempted to get into “Thug Rose’s” head but was knocked out in the first round instead, and had spent much of the time in between the first fight and the rematch blaming a weight cut gone bad for the defeat.
Meanwhile many felt Namajunas was finding her stride as she had fulfilled her always monstrous potential and become the UFC champion, a feat she failed to accomplish in her first official UFC bout in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) finals in 2014.
Many questions were there to answer for the formerly titled “Joanna Champion,” and while she did answer some of them, it was ultimately “Thug Rose” who proved she was the best 115-pound fighter in MMA.
The fight began with a high movement level from both fighters as they felt each other out. A brief exchange unfolded, but the champion stayed calm and collected on the outside. Jedrzejczyk was sharp as well, but Namajunas jumped in for a brief shot. Namajunas backed up Jedrzejczyk with a big punch, following with a one-two combination. Jedrzejczyk pushed forward and was countered, with Namajunas avoiding all of Jedrzejczyk’s big shots until a leg kick. Namajunas landed some big right hands, however, reddening Jedrzejczyk.
Another brief exchange unfolded, with the champ landing a left hand and sliding out of the way effectively, Jedrzejczyk landing a big left punch, and Namajunas a flurry as the first round came to a close.
The second began with Namajunas landed a big combo and a jab. Jedrzejczyk kept her pace high but Namajunas countered, goading Jedrzejczyk and landing a left hand. The champ unloaded with a huge left hook and Jedrzejczyk landed a big low kick. A counter left followed from the champ, who pushed forward with another combination. The two went to a brief clinch and Jedrzejczyk landed some knees, but it looked like Namajunas poked Jedrzejczyk in the eye. Namajunas landed a huge left hook once again, snapping straight punches as a flurry ensued. Namajunas clinched and Jedrzejczyk landed an elbow and a knee to end the second.
Namajunas landed big to start the third, and Jedrzejczyk smiled in response. Jedrzejczyk snapped a jab and a low kick. Namajunas stayed calm and snapped a right followed by a body shot as the two women unloaded flurries. Jedrzejczyk landed a hard strike and a good head kick followed by a right hand and a low kick as the former champion began to find her range. Namajunas threw a body kick but Jedrzejczyk slapped two low kicks. Namajunas looked for a clinch but was fended as Jedrzejczyk stung the champ with a straight punch. Namajunas landed a front kick and a strong punch and the fighters went to war to close a round that Jedrzejczyk appeared to have locked up.
The championship rounds started with a low kick from Jedrzejczyk, and the champ landed a two-piece combination. Jedrzejczyk kept up the low kicks, and scored a left hook to the body as Namajunas appeared to slow down significantly. Namajunas landed a good left but the challenger answered with a stiff counter flurry. Jedrzejczyk found her groove, scoring with punches on a possibly compromised Namajunas. The fighters traded and Namajunas landed a solid right hand. Jedrzejczyk landed a counter left and continued throwing low kicks to end the fourth round.
The fifth round began with a high-five from the rivals as Jedrzejczyk’s right eye was nearly shut. Namajunas snapped a straight punch and huge left hand, following with another. She followed with her own leg kick, and Jedrzejczyk landed a big knee. Namajunas answered with a big right hand to the nose and a low kick. Namajunas threw and Jedrzejczyk countered, but the challenger was now bloodied and battered. Jedrzejczyk scored another low kick and a right hand, but Namajunas continued to press forward with more combos.
In the final two minutes, “Thug Rose” ate a jab and a few more punches but avoided enough shots to land some of her own. Flurries followed, with a massive takedown from the champion as she smothered Jedrzejczyk for the final 15 seconds of the fight.
When the dust settled, Namajunas retained her title on all three judges’ cards.
Final Result: Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via unanimous decision (49-46 x 3)