Rose Namajunas made it two for two over Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the UFC 223 co-main event at Barclays Center, but she had to go five rounds to get the win the second time around, pulling off a unanimous decision victory to retain her UFC women’s strawweight title for the first time.
Scores were 49-46 across the board for Namajunas, 9-3, who took the 115-pound crown from Jedrzejczyk via first-round knockout last November. Jedrzejczyk, who successfully defended the belt five times before the defeats to Namajunas, falls to 14-2.
Namajunas was clearly the more relaxed of the two fighters in the opening round, with Jedrzejczyk appearing to be tense in exchanges with the champion. Jedrzejczyk did mark up Namajunas’ legs with a series of kicks, but the most significant blows of the round came from the fists of Namajunas, who was quick and accurate with her attacks.
Jedrzejczyk had more success in the second round, mainly with knees at close range and more kicks to the legs. Namajunas still controlled the boxing game, but the scoring gap between the two strawweights was closing, and Jedrzejczyk may have pulled ahead in round three as she finally started to land some punches on Namajunas which, coupled with her kicks, were starting to get her into a rhythm.
Namajunas continued to be selective but effective with her punches in round four, but outside of a flurry of activity with a minute left, it was Jedrzejczyk staying busier and outworking the champion.
With Jedrzejczyk’s right eye rapidly closing and her nose bloodied at the start of round five, Namajunas stepped on the gas and began throwing with more urgency, trying to close the show on the challenger. Jedrzejczyk surged down the stretch, though, outstriking her foe before a late takedown by Namajunas put a cap on a memorable rematch.