UFC 251 Main Card – Saturday 11th July
UFC Fight Island — Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Following their title clash last May, Jéssica Andrade and Rose Namajunas will meet for the second time at UFC 251 on Fight Island. Can Namajunas avenge her loss or will Andrade cement her position as the next strawweight title challenger?
Jéssica Andrade (20–7) is the former UFC strawweight champion and steps into the octagon for a rematch with the person she won the title against, Rose Namajunas. Andrade had beaten Namajunas to claim UFC gold in Brazil, Andrade’s home country.
The bout took place at UFC 237 in May last year and was finished by KO due to a slam in round 2, which earned Andrade a Performance of the Night (POTN) bonus. Her last fight was in August 2019, when she lost the title in spectacular fashion to Zhang Weili in Zhang’s native China courtesy of a TKO in the very first minute.
Currently ranked the number 4 Pound-for-Pound woman in the UFC, the Brazilian had won her last four prior to losing her title and is looking to get back to her winning ways this weekend. “Bate Estaca” had also fought for the title before her victory over Namajunas, losing to arguably the greatest strawweight ever, Joanna Jędrzejczyk by unanimous decision at UFC 211 in May 2017 after being dominated throughout.
Andrade has a background in boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and Muay Thai. She is 11–5 in the UFC with most of her victories coming down to a decision, and her last two wins have both been POTN KOs. Entering her third title fight in a row and extending her record for the most fights in UFC women’s history to seventeen, Andrade will look to set up a rematch with Zhang for the title by defeating Namajunas for a second time.
Rose Namajunas (8–4) has also been the UFC strawweight champion, winning the belt against Joanna Jędrzejczyk emphatically with a TKO midway through round 1 at UFC 217 in November 2017. Namajunas showed that her victory was no fluke by defending the belt in a rematch with Jędrzejczyk five months later at UFC 223, the victory coming by unanimous decision.
Placed number 6 in the UFC women’s P4P rankings, Namajunas fought just once in 2018 and 2019 and will be competing for the first time in fourteen months, since her title loss against Andrade. This rematch was originally scheduled to take place three months ago at UFC 249 but two COVID-19 related deaths in Namajunas’ family led to a rescheduling being agreed.
“Thug” Rose appeared on TUF series 20, a tournament to determine who would become the inaugural UFC strawweight champion, and made it to the final for her UFC debut in the title bout aged 22, against Carla Esparza. Namajunas lost the December 2014 contest early in the third round after submitting to a rear-naked choke.
The Wisconsin native has a 6–3 record in the UFC with four finishes, including three submissions that have all come by way of rear-naked choke.
In her rematch with Andrade, she will need to utilize her 3-inch height and reach advantage, and I expect her to try and score with jabs and kicks to the body and head before attempting to take the fight to the ground to look for a submission.
Prediction: Andrade by decision with a POTN in a very close fight.