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UFC 251 Preview, Pick And Prediction: Jessica Andrade Vs. Rose Namajunas II

Rose Namajunas won the UFC strawweight title in 2017 with a first round knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Namajunas overcame huge odds to win that matchup. On fight night the champion was a -862 favorite over Namajunas, who was a +330 underdog.

In April 2018, the two ran things back. That time Jedrzejczyk was the tiniest of favorites, coming in at -140. Namajunas was a -120 underdog. The fight went the five-round distance, but once again, Namajunas’ hand was raised in victory.

With no more questions to answer with Jedrzejczyk, Namajunas moved on to face Jessica Andrade in May 2019.

Andrade, who had been with the UFC since 2013, had fought Jedrzejczyk in 2017. Jedrzejczyk won that fight by decision. After the loss, Andrade went 3-0. That run got her a shot at Namajunas.

On fight night, Andrade was a -120 favorite over Namajunas, who entered the contest as a +100 underdog.

Namajunas dominated the first five minutes of the contest. She used her speed and an effective jab as well as the advantages she had in height and reach to counter the power of Andrade. Namajunas bloodied the eye of her opponent early with her hands. Andrade kept things close in the significant striking department, but most of her landed strikes were leg kicks.

Namajunas continued to dominate the second round with her striking, but Andrade did not waiver. Halfway through the round, Andrade backed Namajunas to the fence and lifted her in the air. Namajunas had a kimura grip on one of Andrade’s arms. Namajunas did not release that hold and she got slammed on her head. She was knocked unconscious. When she woke up her title reign was over.

On Saturday the two meet again on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 251.

In the lead up to the matchup, Namajunas said that she was not focused for the first fight and that she was struggling with her fear of success. She says she has overcome that disinterest heading into the rematch and that might be the most important factor in this second meeting.

If Namajunas is interested and committed to defeating Andrade, she has all the tools to do so. She was clearly winning the fight until the slam knockout. So, if she can avoid making a mistake like she did in the first fight, by not releasing the kimura grip, she should win.

The odds agree. Namajunas is favored over Andrade.

Andrade, who lost the title to Weili Zhang in August, has her work cut out for her. She needs to figure out a way to close distance and land with her hands while avoiding the faster Namajunas at the same time. She has the more arduous work to do in the rematch and that’s why I’m going with Namajunas.

UFC 251 is headlined by three title fights. In the main event, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. In the co-headliner, UFC featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski faces Max Holloway. The other title fight is Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight crown.

UFC 251 takes place Saturday, July 11 at Fight Island on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The pay-per-view card streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+ and early prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass. 

Pick: Namajunas

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