Andrade’s thunderous slam of Rose Namajunas has her moving up the women’s rankings
What a way to crash the party.
On the outside looking in of the women’s pound-for-pound top five entering last Saturday’s UFC 237 card in her native Brazil, Jessica Andrade landed the slam heard around the MMA world when she violently knocked out Rose Namajunas to commandeer the strawweight title.
The 27-year-old Andrade was certainly no stranger to the title picture in the past, having fought unsuccessfully over five rounds against then-champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2017. In that fight, just as she did in the first seven minutes before finishing Namajunas, Andrade showed tremendous poise to absorb punishment without ever halting her aggressive pursuit.
The difference between this version of Andrade compared with just a few years ago was evident, however. The loss to Jedrzejczyk only made her hungrier and fueled her steady evolution, which included three straight wins against top contenders heading into the Namajunas fight, including a scary one-punch knockout of Karolina Kowalkiewicz last year.
Andrade was so emotional after her victory, awarding her title to her longtime coach with tears streaming down both of their faces, that it was clear to see how hard she has worked en route to setting a new UFC record for most victories by a female within the promotion.
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A former bantamweight, Andrade amazingly shed 20 pounds from her fighting frame to reinvent herself at 115 pounds. Since then, outside of her first title defeat, she has been almost universally dominant while proving herself as one of the toughest outs in UFC when you combine her chin, power and her resolve to keep finding ways to win during tough fights.
The almost surreal nature of how she defeated Namajunas after being on the wrong end of such a dominant opening round did well to illustrate just how hard it is to put a ceiling on her potential, especially when considering her incredible strength.
In a division that has always been deep and dangerous since UFC first debuted it five years ago, Andrade might be the scariest single force strawweight has known to date. She may not be perfect as a fighter, but her improvement has been steady and she’s so uniquely skilled and dangerous that she may never find herself out of a fight.
Good luck to the rest of the division.
Men’s pound-for-pound rankings
UFC Power Rankings
|1. Jon Jones||Light heavyweight champion||24-1 (1 NC)||—|
Jones tour of staying busy post-suspension continues when he fights for the third time in seven months against Thiago Santos in July. The only thing left for Jones to seemingly accomplish from a legacy standpoint is an eventual move to heavyweight which once sounded inevitable and now is tentative, at best, if you listen to Jones’ words.
|2. Khabib Nurmagomedov||Lightweight champion||27-0||—|
|With his suspension for his role in the UFC 229 post-fight melee expiring this summer, heavy rumors continue to swirl that “The Eagle” will defend his crown in September against interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.|
|3. Daniel Cormier||Heavyweight champion||22-1 (1 NC)||—|
|Brock Lesnar’s decision not to return to UFC at this time robbed DC of a payday he had been publicly advocating for. Instead, he will rematch former champ Stipe Miocic in August with hopes of a third fight against Jon Jones at light heavyweight before he retires.|
|4. Tony Ferguson||Lightweight||18-3-1|
|With injuries and personal problems seemingly behind him, Ferguson will finally make his return on June 8 at UFC 238 against red-hot Donald Cerrone. No one is more deserving of a title shot within the promotion than Ferguson, who is 17-1 since 2009 and riding an 11-fight win streak. A win over Cerrone likely gets him one.|
|5. Henry Cejudo||Flyweight champion||14-2|
One fight removed from knocking out former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in their 125-pound title bout, Cejudo will make the move north in pursuit of Dillashaw’s former title when he faces Marlon Moraes for the vacant crown at UFC 238. A rising star already, becoming a two-division champion would do wonders for Cejudo’s legacy.
|6. Robert Whittaker||Middleweight champion||20-4|
|While yet another injury delayed Whittaker’s return to the Octagon, business has picked up increasingly within the division during his absence. Israel Adesanya’s all-action win over Kelvin Gastelum for the interim title sets up an all-Oceanic showdown for 185-pound supremacy later this year.|
|7. Kamaru Usman||Welterweight champion||15-1|
|Usman backed up every word he spoke by humbling Tyron Woodley over five rounds and commandeering the UFC welterweight title. A reloaded division won’t make defending the crown an easy task as the likes of Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal leading a hungry group of contenders hot on his trail.|
|8. Dustin Poirier||Interim lightweight champion||25-5|
|Poirier’s feel-good story of evolution and growth as a fighter continued with his hard-fought interim title win over Max Holloway at UFC 236. In the deepest and most dangerous division in the sport, Poirier now finds himself one win away from lightweight supremacy ahead of a rumored September clash with champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.|
|9. Max Holloway||Featherweight champion||16-4|
|Holloway fought bravely in his one-off experiment at 155 pounds, yet suffered plenty of damage in a thrilling loss to Dustin Poirier. A move back down to defend his title at featherweight awaits “Blessed” when he faces 37-year-old Frankie Edgar at UFC 240 on July 27.|
|10. Israel Adesanya||Interim middleweight champion||17-0|
|In the span of two months, the undefeated rising star defeated a still game Anderson Silva in a passing-of-the-torch fight before winning one of the most brutal and dramatic bouts in UFC history when he outlasted Kelvin Gastelum for the interim crown. After resting to heal, a showdown with Robert Whittaker awaits to find out who the best middleweight and possibly the UFC’s next crossover star truly is.|
Dropped out: Conor McGregor, Tyron Woodley, TJ Dillashaw
Just missed: Woodley, McGregor, Yoel Romero, Brian Ortega, Marlon Moraes
Women’s pound-for-pound rankings
UFC Power Rankings
|1. Amanda Nunes||Bantamweight/Featherweight champion||17-4||—|
|Having not been forced by UFC to give up one of her titles fresh off a first-round knockout of pound-for-pound queen Cris Justino, Nunes continues her bid for G.O.A.T. status when she defends her 135-pound title against former champion Holly Holm at UFC 239 in July. A win over Holm and maybe one more in a rematch against “Cyborg” would legitimately leave Nunes void of challenges worth staying around for.|
|2. Cris “Cyborg” Justino||Featherweight||20-2|
|Succumbing to strikes in the opening minutes of Round 1 against Amanda Nunes in December, “Cyborg” must now prove she can bounce back from such a devastating defeat and the end of one of MMA’s most impressive win streaks. Justino said all the right things in defeat and, at 33, the pioneering legend seems deserving of a second chance to win back her belt.|
|3. Valentina Shevchenko||Flyweight champion||16-3|
The best 125-pound women’s fighter in the world will defend her title on June 8 in Chicago against Jessica Eye. Considering the division around her remains thin, it will be interesting to see whether Shevchenko ever takes the bait in a move back up to bantamweight should she get a chance to avenge two close defeats to Nunes, one of which was heavily disputed.
|4. Jessica Andrade||Strawweight champion||20-6|
|One of the sport’s most dangerous fighters only added to her reputation by violently removing Rose Namajunas of the 115-pound title. A rematch against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk could be next as Andrade looks to run back her only loss at strawweight.|
|5. Rose Namajunas||Strawweight||8-4|
|The future remains uncertain for “Thug Rose” following her title loss via knockout slam to Andrade. Her comments immediately after suggested retirement is already heavy on her mind at age 26. One thing is for certain, however, Namajunas proved in the opening round against Andrade that should she rediscover the hunger, it’s not out of the question that she one day cements herself as the best fighter in the game.|
Dropped out: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Just missed: Jedrzejczyk, Tatiana Suarez, Holly Holm, Nina Ansaroff, Germaine de Randamie