Rose Namajunas proved the first time was no fluke.
“Thug Rose” scored what was considered a massive upset at UFC 217 back in November, scoring a first-round TKO to take the UFC strawweight title from the previously undefeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
On Saturday night, Namajunas won the rematch, and showed the heart of a champion in hanging on to the belt. At UFC 223 in Brooklyn, Namajunas won the first two rounds, Jedrzejczyk turned up the heat in the middle of the fight, and the the champ dug down deep to finish the job.
The judges at Barclays Center scored the bout 49-46 across the board for a unanimous decision as the 25-year-old from Denver improved to 8-3.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t as technical this time,” Namajunas said. “I was feeling a little heavy this time, but it was good.”
After the first two rounds, it looked like Namajunas was going to cruise to victory. Namajanus was patient with her offense, landing big left hooks when the openings presented themselves and then darting out of the way. Jedrzejczyk would move forward, but couldn’t find her range, as Namajunas was gone by the time her opponent arrived.
But Jedrzejczyk turned the tide in the third round. She threw leg kick after leg kick and started landing with her punches as well. Jedrzejczyk clearly won the third round. The fourth, while questionably given to Namajunas by all three judges, was close. By the midpoint of the fourth, Namajunas’ mobility was limited due to the damage her lead leg had taken.
The fifth and final round was gutcheck time, as Namajunas had slowed and Jedrzejczyk’s right eye was nearly swollen shut. Namajunas was more willing to throw in the pocket, while Jedrzejcyzk threw punches and darted away. Namajunas landed a takedown in the fifth round’s closing seconds, leaving no doubt.
The champ didn’t sound overly impressed with her own performance, despite beating the world-class kickboxer in the standup.
“It was definitely I feel i could have been lighter on my feet this time,” the champion said.
Namajunas has won three in a row and six of seven. Jedrzejczyk dropped to 14-2.