UFC 223: Joanna v. Namajunas – Fight of the Night…Take II?
After a quick victory by Rose against Joanna at UFC 217, can these two fighters pull off an epic rematch in Brooklyn?
A few months back, Rose Namajunas was just another fighter looking to take the crown (Strawweight Title) off of “The Boggeywoman”, Jonna Jedrzejczyk. A first round KO later, and “Thug Rose” ended the amazing reign of Joanna Champion, just like that. Now, these two go to war in New York once again, inside the Barclays Center for UFC 223.
The question on everyone’s mind is simple: Can they make this fight one to truly remember?
Before the first fight at Madison Square Garden, I questioned whether the title match would be able to steal the show. In a sense, it did, based off the shock value alone. After oozing confidence, Joanna hit the mat hard, similar to how Holly Holm bested Ronda Rousey. The key difference here is that Joanna came back right away, ready and willing to speak to the media, among other things. She accepted the loss, and looked to move forward. Now, she wants to prove lightning can’t strike twice for Rose.
There’s nothing quite like a desperate fighter. She may not be craving attention, but Joanna is treating this match like it’s the be all, end all for her. For Joanna, it’s a chance to prove that she can beat Rose at her very best. It’s been talked about how Joanna was struggling during the weigh-ins at UFC 217. Now, seemingly healthy, Joanna wants to make UFC 223 her redemption story.
It will be tough to outpace Namajunas. She may use her strikes like last time to shake Joanna, but that’s not her only strategy. Her ground game is always a factor, having won five fights via submission. Whether or not the fight actually goes the distance is up in the air. The pace will be crucial in order for this fight to entice a crowd that was wondering whether UFC 223 would still be going on.
Speaking during the ceremonial weigh-ins, Joanna and Rose kept the drama to a minimum. The way they evolved since the last fight is something, and their confidence was on display.
Rose: “The leaves may change color, but the roots stay the same.”
Joanna: “I was a champion for a reason. This Saturday, you’ll find out why.”
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about New York that brings something out in both Rose and Joanna, good and bad. Joanna’s opponent at UFC 205 inside Madison Square Garden, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is also on the card. We all know how epic of a fight that turned out to be when those two hooked up. This will only be Namajunas’ second New York-based fight. Can New York provide momentum for a Joanna return or a “Thug Rose” defense?
There is no need for any true formalities. These two just need to show up and get to work. Once the cage door closes, UFC 217 will be in the past. A potential classic is always on the horizon, so let’s set back, relax and enjoy the show. They might just surprise us all.