Ever since Jessica Andrade scored a vicious slam knockout of Rose Namajunas to capture the women's strawweight championship at UFC 237 in May 2019, fans have awaited a rematch between the two. The now-former champions finally threw down again on the pay-per-view main card of UFC 251 from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, and while it wasn't easy, Namajunas got her revenge.
Andrade came out of the corner using a lot of upper body movement, ducking from side to side. Namajunas remained steady, picking her spots to utilize a very sharp jab, a strike that was core to her building a big lead in strikes landed to the head for the first two rounds of the three-round clash.
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With the fight seeming to slip away from Andrade, she flipped the switch coming into Round 3 and began to land heavy shots with increasing frequency.
"Early in the fight, I was great," Namajunas said following the conclusion of the fight. "Then she turned on the desperation button and started really unloading. She caught me a couple times, obviously, but I just stayed strong."
As Andrade landed her cracking shots, Namajuas began to show damage. First, Namajunas' nose began to bleed, then her legs started to buckle and her left eye swelled quickly. Andrade couldn't find the finish in the final round, however, and Namajunas had already built up enough of a lead to score the win on the judges' scorecards in a Fight of the Night contender.
The final scorecards read 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28, giving Namajunas the split decision victory and moving her closer to a shot to regain the strawweight championship now held by Weili Zhang. How soon that could happen, according to Namajunas, may come down to how quickly she is able to recover from the damage suffered at the fists of Andrade.
"I was hoping to get in there pretty soon before the end of the year, but we'll see how my nose is doing," Namajunas said.
For complete results and recaps of UFC 251, head over to our guide for the event