Rose Namajunas took a huge risk when she went down to Brazil to fight Jessica Andrade in the main event of UFC 237. Having not fought in over a year since the Conor McGregor bus incident back at UFC 223 and a decision win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk at that event, Andrade went into the heart of South America to take on the hometown fighter Andrade at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Many people told Namajunas not to take the risk, but she decided to take the fight anyways. Unfortunately for Namajnas, the risk didn’t pay off for her.
Although Namajunas had a strong first round against Andrade, even dropping her with a knee to the body at one point, the second round wasn’t kind to the former champion. Namjunas suffered the first KO loss of her MMA career when Andrade picked her up and slammed her hard to the canvas, knocking her out cold. Thankfully Namajunas didn’t break her neck or end up paralyzed, but she still lost the fight, and she’s no longer the champion. Now, Andrade is the UFC women’s strawweight champion, and Namajunas is just another contender.
Some have suggested Namajunas deserves an immediate rematch against Andrade because she was winning the first early on until the slam, but I disagree with it. The fact is, Namajunas made just one title defense since her first win over Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 in November 2017, which was a decision win over Jedrzejczyk in the rematch. Sure, you can ask why Jedrzejczyk got an immediate rematch but not Namajunas, but remember that the former champ from Poland made five title defenses. Namajunas made just one. One title defense in 18 months does not equate to anyone getting an immediate title rematch, and with the women’s strawweight division having plenty of other contenders waiting for a shot of their own, Namajunas needs to go back in the line. Of course, with her already talking about possibly retiring from the sport, that makes things easier for the UFC.
Once Andrade heals up and is ready to fight again, she should fight the winner of the UFC 238 fight between Tatiana Suarez and Nina Ansaroff in her first title defense. Suarez is a perfect 7-0 in her MMA career and 4-0 in the UFC, while Ansaroff is riding a four-fight win streak herself. That fight screams No. 1 contender, and with Namajunas losing in such devastating fashion it makes it even more likely the winner of that bout fights for the belt. As much as you have to feel for Namajunas for everything she’s went through personally in the last year, and as much as the UFC needs to thank her for stepping up and flying down to Brazil to fight Andrade, at the end of the day there are fresh contenders waiting for a shot that deserve it more.
Many thought that Namajunas could be a long-reigning champion in the UFC women’s strawweight division, but Andrade showed that anything can happen in this sport with her brutal slam KO. Now Andrade is the champion, and Namajunas is left to wonder what happened. She was a tremendous champion for the UFC in the time she held the belt in that she represented the sport well, but at the end of the day this sport is about “what have you done for me lately,” and one fight in 18 months doesn’t inspire confidence in anyone. Namajunas needs to figure out what she wants to do next in her career and then get back into the Octagon and earn another title shot. In the meantime, Andrade can fight the winner of Suarez vs. Ansaroff later this year in her first title defense. The UFC women’s strawweight division has arguably never been stronger than it is now.