UFC 237: Namajunas vs. Andrade – Preview

As of late, the UFC has been on a streak of scheduling fights which see two fighters at the top of their games go at it for the rights to championship gold. The company has seemingly moved away from chasing the biggest money fights, and instead decided to pay more attention to the rankings and letting the best of the best square off inside the Octagon.

Saturday in Rio De Janeiro will be no different — as strawweight champ Rose Namajunas (8-3) is set to defend her belt against the number one contender in Brazil’s Jessica Andrade (19-6).

The fighters have weighed in, the bout is official, and this is set to be another case of two of the world’s best getting the chance to determine the fate of the crown inside the cage.

This matchup is intriguing, as on paper, both fighters are very similar in terms of their credentials. Namajunas and Andrade are both heavy hitting strikers who also possess brown belts in Brazilian Jiujitsu. Both ladies will also enter the cage riding three fight win streaks — but only one of them will remain when it is all said and done on Saturday night.

Rose Namajunas is still relatively young, both in terms of her age and her professional MMA experience. Despite showing maturity beyond her years every time she steps into the Octagon, the strawweight queen is still only 26-years-old.

After Namajunas’ business with former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk came to its conclusion in April of last year, it is now time for “Thug Rose” to move on and face the rest of the stacked division as she attempts to cement her legacy in women’s MMA.

And what better way to possibly start your road to becoming regarded as one of the best to ever do it than defending your belt in Brazil, against a Brazilian? A very brave move indeed — but also a move which will give Namajunas a challenge that she feels is necessary for her at this point of her career.

Namajunas explained on “The Ariel Helwani MMA Show” in February, that she will enter the always hostile environment in Rio with the mindset that “fighting is not about being comfortable,” and with her mind being set that this is the perfect opportunity to reaffirm her greatness.

With that being said, the reigning champ is well aware that facing the in-form Andrade will be no pushover once the cage is locked on Saturday.

The Parana native will enter the Octagon this weekend carrying twice her opponents professional fighting experience — and coming off a vicious knockout victory in her last outing against Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

Andrade has established herself as arguably one of the hardest hitting female fighters in the UFC, and her unorthodox style of fighting will be a new challenge for Namajunas to deal with.

The Brazilian has not looked back since the one-sided defeat to Jedrzejczyk in her first title shot back in 2017. Andrade has shown significant signs of progress each time she has stepped into the Octagon after that loss, and she believes that this is the perfect time for her to get another opportunity at claiming the strawweight gold.

The key to this fight for both fighters could very well be asserting early dominance in the first few striking exchanges. For gifted strikers who are stylistically and physically very similar like Namajunas and Andrade, being able to set the tempo by finding the range with the jab early on can go a long way in getting the edge in a fight of this magnitude.

All things considered, this fight is certainly worthy of the main event slot — as two of the world’s best will go head to head for the rights to championship glory — in what is shaping up to be an exciting night of fights in Rio De Janeiro.


Sports journalist based in CA, USA. Twitter: @ArionArmeniakos

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