Rose Namajunas will walk into the main event at UFC 237 as the underdog for the third consecutive time in a championship fight.
Despite two wins over former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk to cement her spot as champion, Namajunas still facing long odds against Brazilian mauler Jessica Andrade this weekend.
Andrade has earned her reputation by wrecking several top level strawweight contenders including three wins in a row against Claudia Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Tecia Torres.
Still, Namajunas has faced plenty of elite competition during her career including her current title reign yet she’s still being undervalued ahead of her upcoming fight against Andrade.
“This is a really tough fight for her. Andrade is a beast, an absolutely beast,” UFC president Dana White said about the main event when speaking to the Jim Rome show. “A lot of people think Andrade is going to run right through Rose but let’s not forget Rose beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk twice and everybody on her way to get to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She looks better every time she fights.
“This is one of those fights I have no idea how this is going to go. I get why Rose is the underdog but people are underestimating Rose once again.”
While it ultimately comes down to who is better on the night, White says he loves Namajunas’ willingness to step right into the lion’s den to face Andrade on her turn despite being the incumbent champion.
When it was time to put together the UFC 237 card in Brazil, Namajunas got the call to defend her belt on foreign soil in a place that is notoriously tough on non-Brazilians.
According to White, there was zero hesitation from Namajunas to accept the challenge and that’s another reason why he has faith her her performance on Saturday night.
“A lot of people will not go down to Brazil. They fear that they don’t get the right call from the judges and the crowd is so hostile. It’s basically Brazil versus the world,” White explained.
“When I tell you this, we called Rose Namajunas and told her this fight and told her that she was going to be defending her title in Brazil, on Andrade’s home turf, [she] didn’t even flinch. Didn’t even question it. Nothing. She just accepted the fight and I have a lot of respect for her for that.”
Namajunas will once again look to prove the odds wrong when she defends her title against Andrade in the headliner from Rio de Janeiro this Saturday night on pay-per-view.