In what was one of the biggest UFC upsets in 2017, Rose Namajunas became the third UFC Women’s Strawweight champion after she finished long time champion Joanna Jedrzcejczyk via knockout in just 3:03 of the first round.
The loss was a devastating one for Jedrzcejczyk, who had successfully defended the title five times since winning it from Carla Esparza in March 2015.
As her result of her dominance in the division, however, the Polish striking standout has been given an immediate rematch against Namajunas in the co-main event of UFC 223.
In their first fight, Namajunas exploited the fact that Jedrzcejczyk – while being a superb technical striker – typically does not possess one punch knockout power.
This led to Namajunas showing a willingness to eat a few strikes in order to fight close and land quick devastating shots, which proved to be effective.
Namajunas must implement a similar gameplan if she is to successfully defend the title at UFC 223, whilst also using closeness to go for takedowns or pull guard.
By mixing up her game, Namajunas will keep the former champion worried about Namajunas’ superb ground game (5 of her 7 wins are via submission) while also worrying about her power shots.
Jedrzcejczyk’s best work is done when she fights at a distance and is able to use her length and kickboxing skills to chop her opponents down.
For the 31-year-old to regain the title, she must negate Namajunas’ quickness and forward movements with accurate, defensive striking in order to keep her at bay and force her into a more traditional kickboxing match where Jedrzcejczyk thrives.
The main card at UFC 223 will also feature two lightweight contests: Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Anthony Pettis vs. Michael Chiesa.
Prediction – Jedrzcejczyk via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45)