On Saturday, at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, New York, the final of three thrilling women’s bouts will take place in the strawweight division.
In the highly anticipated co-main event of the night, Joanna Jedrzejczyk will attempt to regain the strawweight championship against the sole fighter to defeat her in MMA. Rose Namajunas shocked the world at UFC 217 when she finished the Polish fighter in the first round via TKO. JJ would go on to source a terrible weight cut as the reason for her performance that night, promising to return in championship form. “Thug” Rose welcomes the rematch. She believes JJ may have had a tough weight cut but still feels she is the better fighter.
The fight was made official when both fighters made weight on Friday morning, both tipping the scale at 114 pounds. Before the two meet in the cage at UFC 223, two members of the WMMA Rankings panel, Nick and Terence, play the role of head coach and map out what they believe will be Joanna and Rose’s Keys to Victory.
JOANNA Jędrzejczyk (nICK)
- DEEP WATERS… One thing that Joanna has that Rose has not had much of is championship round experience. Joanna has been to the third, fourth and fifth rounds several times against some of the best in the world. Rose has been to the fifth round once (vs Paige VanZant) and it would serve the American Top Team fighter well to try and drag her into deep waters. We know for certain Joanna’s gas tank is endless and she can look to wear down her opponent over time.
- PUNISHMENT IN THE CLINCH… Hear me out— The clinch is a dangerous place to stay with a fighter the caliber of Rose. Thug has pulled off some pretty slick takedowns and submissions (see her Invicta flying armbar finish) by working from the clinch, however, if JJ punishes Rose up close she can tap her gas tank. When Rose fought Karolina, everytime she got close Karolina would unload with knees and elbows in the clinch. By the third round, Namajunas looked drained and KK was able to dictate the pace.
- TAKEDOWN DEFENSE… Joanna has shown some incredible anti-wrestling and TDD in the octagon— she will need to bring that with her to this fight. Rose has some of the best transitions and BJJ in the strawweight division, on the ground she should have a distinct advantage. Joanna should punish the takedown attempts with elbows and knees and look to keep this fight standing where she can most effectively employ her Muay Thai skills.
Rose Namajunas (TERENCE)
- IF AT FIRST YOU SUCCEED, DO THE SAME THING AGAIN… When you can beat a dominant champion like Joanna, it’s easy to overthink a rematch and try to do something different. Rose has predicted a submission this time, and while that’s not a bad idea (see below), it’s not hard to see that she has more options that Joanna. She is a great striker like the former champion, and she has a phenomenal ground game. Joanna’s game plan is likely going to involve pacing and counterstriking, and probably won’t feature new or unexpected techniques.
- STAY IN HER FACE… American Top Team coach Mike Brown has already said that the game plan is for this to be a longer fight. While he could be decoying, it makes sense that she will try to circle out and catch Rose rather than wading in. Rose took the first fight because of relentless pressure, and she should do the same. She could get caught this time, but it is just as likely that she will overwhelm Joanna just as she did in the first fight.
- GO FOR THE SUBMISSION… As the fight progresses, there is more risk for Rose to get caught. However, Joanna will have a hard time defending Rose’s takedowns. Rose could even attempt one of her flying armbars. With her length and reach, it will be difficult for Joanna to scramble and get away from her.
Who will you be rooting for come Saturday? What Keys to Victory do you think each fighter should have?