There’s a new Strawweight Champion in the UFC and her name is Jessica Andrade. UFC 237 took place last Saturday in Rio de Janeiro. In the main event, we saw Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas defend her belt against Jessica Andrade. The odds were stacked against the champ as not only was Andrade fresh off a first-round knockout over Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 228, but Namajunas also had to deal with a very hostile Brazilian crowd.
Round one was all Namajunas. Andrade had trouble getting in range of Namajunas and Rose was hitting Andrade with some clean shots. It looked like Andrade’s striking hasn’t really improved. I thought we’d see a lot of improvements in this fight because Namajunas is one of the best strikers in the UFC.
Since Andrade relies on her power so much she loads up on her hooks. It might work against a fighter who’s the same size, but Rose is so much taller and probably the best striker Andrade has ever faced. Rose uses her reach advantage perfectly and has some of the best footwork in the UFC.
At the end of the round, Rose dropped Andrade with a knee. This was easily the most lopsided round of Andrade’s career since she dropped down to Strawweight. In round 2, Andrade started turning it into a brawler. She was taking a lot of damage but that’s what she needed to do to get inside the range of Namajunas towards the end of round 2.
Namajunas was trying to hold on to a kimura lock but Andrade lifted Rose and slammed her to the mat. Rose fell directly on her head, which knocked her out. Andrade is only the fourth fighter to hold the UFC Strawweight Title. This is now two knockout wins in a row for Andrade and there’s no doubt she has some serious power at Strawweight. A lot of people want to see a rematch between her and Namajunas, but I think the next contender for Andrade will be Michelle Waterson. In her post-fight interview, Rose sounded like she wanted to take a long break from fighting. She even hinted that this could’ve been the last fight of her career.
Namajuna’s only 26 years old and is already one of the best strikers in the UFC. I think she’d be the favorite in a rematch because she was dominating the whole fight until that slam. I think Andrade next opponent will be Tatiana Suarez who is currently ranked number two at Strawweight. She is currently 7-0 in the UFC and is the best female wrestler in the UFC. Suarez will be facing Nina Ansaroff at UFC 238. If she wins she’ll be the clear number one contender.
-Stephen Caloggero (@stevie_calo)