There was an abundance of upset wins in 2017. Unlikely champions emerged and dominant titleholders fell.
The Ultimate Fighter 26 winner Nicco Montano entered the tournament that would crown the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion as the No. 14 seed in a field of 16 fighters. Her semi-final round win over former Invicta FC champion and No. 2 seeded Barb Honchak could have been considered the upset of the year. Her win over veteran No. 1 seed Roxanne Modafferi in the finals to become the first UFC women’s 125-pound champion was arguably a bigger upset.
Montano’s rise to the top of the newly created UFC women’s flyweight division was a Cinderella story, but another female fighter pulled off the biggest upset of 2017.
Rose Namajunas came up short to Carla Esparza in the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight title fight at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in December 2014. After the championship loss, Namajunas won four of her next five fights and found herself back in a UFC title bout against five-time defending champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Heading into the fight, Jedrzejczyk was seemingly unstoppable. That all changed at UFC 217 in November.
Jedrzejczyk pulled out all of her intimidation tactics during the press conferences leading up to the fight. She attacked Namajunas’ mental stability. She belittled Namajunas, but “Thug Rose” remained stoic. She was immune to Jedrzejczyk’s mental warfare and employed a bit of psychological gamesmanship herself on fight night. Namajuanas declined to touch gloves with Jedrzejczyk.
Known for her striking prowess, Jedrzejczyk was knocked down by a Namajunas right hand two minutes into the fight. One minute later, Namajunas finished Jedrzejczyk with a left hand that sent the then-champion crashing to the canvas. Namajunas put Jedrzejczyk away seconds later with a series of punches and earned the recognition of pulling off the 2017 Upset of the Year.
(Courtesy of UFC)