Women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas put her title on the line for the first time in the UFC 223 co-main event on Saturday against the woman she took it from, former titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Namajunas shocked the world when she knocked out Jedrzejczyk in the first round at UFC 217 in November. It was Namajunas’ first career knockout win. She wanted to prove it was no fluke when the two stepped into the octagon in the rematch at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and she did just that. Namajunas didn’t get another knockout, but she won a five-round unanimous decision.
Jedrzejczyk looked better prepared this time, but Namajunas was too fast and too accurate. The champion moved in and out of the pocket with ease and stayed just out of range of Jedrzejczyk’s counter strikes. Jedrzejczyk attacked Namajunas’ lead leg to try and slow her down.
Through two rounds, Namajunas was in complete control of the fight. In the third round, Jedrzejczyk’s leg kicks started paying dividends. Namajunas became a more stationary target and Jedrzejczyk began to pick up the pace. After four rounds, it was anyone’s fight.
The two touched gloves before the final frame. Namajunas stood directly in front of Jedrzejczyk and used head movement to avoid absorbing strikes. She landed a lead uppercut that bloodied Jedrzejczyk’s nose. In the closing moments of the fight, Namajunas secured a takedown to seal the deal. After five rounds of fighting the judges scorecards all read 49-46 for Namajunas.
“I’m sorry that I wasn’t as technical this time. I was feeling a little heavy this time, but it was still good. I pulled through,” said Namajunas after defending her belt for the first time.
“She was right, that weight cut kind of did mess her up the first time, but I’m just better,” she added.