A monster main event such as Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov is likely to consume even the best of fight cards. With the two 155’ers enjoying most the attention you could almost be forgiven for overlooking the UFC 223 co-feature, which sees recently crowned champion Rose Namajunas and former strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk meet once again.
The echoes of Daniel Cormier’s cries of “THUG ROSE” seem to have only just dissipated but it has in fact been almost 5 months since UFC 217 which saw Namajunas as a huge underdog put a one round beat-down on the boogie woman to take her throne.
Despite a career-best performance against a pound-for-pound star in Jedrzejczyk, we head into UFC 223 with a similar feel, as Namajunas the underdog seemingly still has it all to prove to silence the doubters.
Rose Namanjunas will not be the first young champion asked to run it back, these quick rematches are synonymous with the UFC who look to satisfy the fans and pundits clamouring for former champions to be given an immediate shot at righting a wrong. With the promotion operating in such a way, we have seen an evolution what it takes to be a truly recognised as a champion. It’s no longer enough to beat the champion, you’ve got to do it twice.
Frankie Edgar convincingly outpointed fan favourite BJ Penn at UFC 112 in April 2010. A rematch was scheduled just four months later, only for Edgar to win in totally dominate the Prodigy retaining his belt by earning every round, on all three judges cards. The most famous of run backs came between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman whose July 2013 Middleweight title bout ended in jaw-dropping fashion as the clowning Silva was slept by the talented youngster. Before the year was out the long-reigning former champion rightfully had his rematch, only for it to end in more devastating fashion than the first bout. Renan Barao was being hailed by Dana White as the pound-for-pound best before his UFC 173 fight with 5/1 underdog TJ Dillashaw. Only to be outfought and beat up over four and a half rounds prior to the merciful intervention of Herb Dean. Whilst Dillashaw was afforded the luxury of an interim bout he ultimately forced to face Barao a second time to truly solidify his position as number one. The bout followed a similar pattern to the first, only more dominant and with an even quicker finish.
As history has shown us, it’s not always the best idea to jump straight back in after a shock loss and this may be especially true in the case of Jedrzejczyk as she faces a true mixed martial artist in Namajunas who continues to improve and evolve on a fight by fight basis. From the dominant wrestling on the show against Paige VanZant to slick jujitsu that earned a quick submission victory over top contender Michelle Waterson, These skill alongside her signature crisp and technical striking which earned her the title, mean Rose Namajunas is the real deal and her
and possess the ability to truly solidify her position as champion. Her underdog status only serves as a testament to the high regard Joanna Jedrzejczyk is rightfully held.
Repeat or revenge is the question. I for one cannot wait to find out.