Rose Namajunas is realistic about her rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk.After pulling off the 2017 “Upset of the Year” to take the UFC women’s strawweight crown from Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) last November, Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) will immediately turn around for a rematch, which co-headlines UFC 223 on Apr. 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.Namajunas knows it’s a large task to go out and perfectly replicate her previous performance against Jedrzejczyk. As the champ explained on the “JRE MMA Show” podcast with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, though, she doesn’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.
“That’s the tough part (doing a rematch),” Namajunas said. “You can’t paint the Mona Lisa twice. It has to be something different, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, either. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing but keep getting better obviously all the time.”
Going into UFC 217, “Thug” was given little chance of dethroning Jedrzejczyk, who was in the midst of one of the most dominant title runs in UFC history. The underdog quickly turned the tables, though, stunning her Polish foe with heavy strikes early in the fight.Namajunas, 25, ended up pulling off the shocking first-round knockout, completely altering the women’s 115-pound landscape that had been dominated by Jedrzejczyk. Many around the world were taken aback by the result, but Namajunas said she had the utmost confidence it would happen.
“(I knew I was going to knock her out) because everyone is so desperate for the takedown,” Namajunas said. “Everyone tries to take her down from what I see. I stand across from Valentina Shevchenko, and we go back-and-forth, and it’s not a thing to me. I’ve got Pat ‘HD’ Barry in my corner. I’ve got Trevor Wittman. I’ve done taekwondo striking my entire life. It’s not something I’ve never seen before.
“That Dutch style of kickboxing, that’s great, that’s hard. It’s very intimidating to stand across from, but you know it’s very rhythmic on the beat. It’s just something: It looks scary, but it’s nothing to be scared of.”
Although she swiftly and decisively beat Jedrzejczyk before, Namajunas made it clear she’s not going to underestimate the former champion by assuming the same thing will happen again. It very well could, but Namajunas won’t be banking on it.
“I have to remember that anything can happen at any moment, and anybody can be dangerous,” Namajunas said. “Then at the end of the day, whatever’s meant to be is meant to be. … I definitely feel like I’m the better martial artist and the better fighter, too. I have a lot going for me. I just have to remember these things.”For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.