MMA Classic Fights: Joanna Jędrzejczyk v Rose Namajunas 1
By Aidan O’Connor
UFC 217 Nov. 4th, 2017. Madison Square Garden, NYC.
This week on Classic Fights we look back at one of the greatest underdog stories of recent history. Joanna Jędrzejczyk coming in as one of the most prolific champions in the UFC.
Her record sat at 14-0 with 5 consecutive title defenses. To many this was nothing more than another fight to extend her record.
In the build up to this fight Joanna was the way you would expect. Trash talking from the outset and really trying to get into Rose’s head. You could see the confidence oozing from her and Rose really throughout the whole process didn’t say anything against Joanna, even saying at one of the press conferences when she was asked why she wasn’t speaking “Well ya’ll aren’t asking me any questions”.
She was completely aware of the underdog she was being classed as, Joanna was looking past her even saying that she had a surprise for when she wins the fight. (This later was confirmed that she was going to be switching divisions to fight for the title and become double champ).
As well as this she also consistently spoke about Rose’s mental health, saying that she couldn’t deal with the pressures of being a champion as it would cause too much stress for her and she would have a break down as well as calling her mentally unstable on the conference call, this was a low blow as Rose has been really open about her mental health and the issues she has faced throughout her life and career.
The most memorable moment of the press conference was when the two faced off, Joanna kissing her fist and pushing it into Rose’s face, whilst Rose stood there reciting the lord’s prayer. Truly Iconic for how this fight was about to play out. Rose kept composed throughout, no trash talking was needed from her point of view. She had a chance at winning the title and she was going to put maximum effort in and make sure that she left as the new champion.
As round 1 began, the crowd was on the edge of their seats. With Rose taking the forward step, she looked extremely agile as she dodged and weaved her way past the incoming strikes from Joanna. The pair began to exchange blows whilst trying to figure each other out. Joanna began to throw combinations of punches mixed with kicks, this slowly started to look like it was going to be a kickboxing fight. Staying calm, Namajunas kept her distance and nothing significant was landing from Joanna, Rose then began to counter almost all of the combinations coming in from Joanna.
Then it came. A huge counter left hook followed by a right knocked the champion to the ground and rose pounced on her and began raining down punches. This was not where Joanna wanted to be, Rose is a master on the ground and has an incredible submission arsenal. Joanna was clearly still stunned but managed to use the cage to take the fight back to her feet and began trying to recover from the huge knock down. The pair began exchanging once again until Rose landed another beautiful left hook which was timed to perfection that dropped the champion once again. Namajunas dived on top to rain down more punches, ultimately leading to the referee stopping the fight due to Joanna tapping in the first round.
It was over. Rose Namajunas was the new women’s strawweight champion of the world. She had silenced all of her doubters and proved to herself that she was the best in the division. After the fight she was the Rose Namajunas the fans have grown to love in both her octagon interview and also the post-fight press conference spreading love and positivity to all that listened to her speak.
The pair would fight again in a rematch some 5 months later where Rose would win via unanimous decision and retain her title. Any doubt about the first fight was put to bed in the second.