What’s next for Jessica Andrade after UFC 261?

This past Saturday at UFC 261, Jessica Andrade (21-9) was trying to capture the flyweight title. To do that, she was tasked with taking on arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Valentina Shevchenko (21-3).

Andrade is a powerhouse of a female fighter. She is known for her strength and her incredible power. The flyweight division is actually her third weight class since joining the UFC.

When she broke through with the promotion, she started with the bantamweight division because that was her only choice. When the strawweight division opened up, Andrade dropped 20 pounds to 115.

Andrade rose to the top and became the UFC strawweight champion. However, her strawweight run ended with back-to-back losses. After two straight defeats, Andrade moved to what is considered her natural weight class of 125 pounds.

In her first fight, she took on Katlyn Chookagian. Andrade’s power was on full display and she stopped the top flyweight contender in the first round. Afterwards, the UFC immediately started hyping up the fight between Andrade and Shevchenko.

Many people expected Jessica Andrade to give Valentina Shevchenko problems at UFC 261. Well, that wasn’t the case. The fight ended up being extremely one-sided and Shevchenko retained her title with a second round TKO.

What’s next after UFC 261?

Valentina Shevchenko sent a massive message to Jessica Andrade on Saturday night. Andrade is known for her power takedowns and fighting in close. Many thought if the fight took place in close quarters that she would have the advantage.

Well, the UFC flyweight champion made a point to keep the fight in close quarters to show that she has no weaknesses. She dominated Jessica Andrade playing Andrade’s game. So with that loss, where does Jessica Andrade go from here?

Well, there are a couple of options. Andrade could always return to strawweight if she ever wants to. She’s 1-1 with the new UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (10-4). Andrade knocked Namajunas out in the first fight and lost a close split decision in the second fight.

It would be relatively easy for the promotion to sell the trilogy. However, the odds are that she will want to stay at 125 pounds. Assuming that’s the case, I think the UFC should look at booking her against Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1).

Calvillo is another strawweight turned flyweight. Currently, she’s ranked fifth in the UFC and she’s also coming off of a loss. I think it would be an excellent matchup that would keep both ladies relevant at 125 pounds.

After losing the title at UFC 261, what’s next for Zhang Weili?

This past Saturday at UFC 261, Zhang Weili (21-2) was set to defend her strawweight title against Rose Namajunas (10-4). Weili has been dominant since she came to the UFC and was the betting favorite heading into Saturday.

I personally thought she was going to be too much for Namajunas. If you go by MMA Math, Weili looked like a tough matchup for Namajunas. We’ve seen Thug Rose struggle against Jessica Andrade.

Andrade knocked Namajunas out with a slam in their first fight and hurt her very badly in their second fight. Now, Namajunas did get the split decision win in the second fight, but it was a really tough fight for Thug Rose.

Weili is just as powerful as Andrade, but she’s more well-rounded. She destroyed Andrade to capture the UFC strawweight title and appeared to have no weaknesses. She’s tough, powerful, and she has incredible technique.

However, on Saturday night, she didn’t have much time to show it. Thug Rose looked better than ever and knocked Weili out in the first round with a beautiful head kick. Weili protested the stoppage, but the stoppage was justified. UFC 261 saw Weili lose for the first time in her UFC career.

What’s next after UFC 261?

After the fight was over, Weili posted on her Instagram that she was hopeful that the UFC would book the rematch. Now, you can make the argument for the rematch considering the way the fight ended.

One big strike and the fight was over quick. No telling how the fight goes if that strike doesn’t land, but at the end of the day it did. On the flip side, you can say that the fight was incredibly one-sided with how quickly Namajunas knocked her out with that kick.

I could definitely see the UFC booking the rematch next. However, if they don’t, there are other options for Weili. The one I like the most is the rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4).

The two former UFC strawweight champions had the fight of the year in 2020. Weili edged Joanna with a split decision win, but the rematch would be incredibly easy to sell. Before UFC 261, Joanna said that she wanted a shot at the winner.

However, with Joanna coming off the Weili loss and having already lost to Namajunas twice, I don’t see it happening. Weili – Joanna is the way to go in my opinion and I really hope the UFC looks at that rematch next to establish the number one contender.

After regaining the title at UFC 261, what’s next for Rose Namajunas?

In the co-main event of UFC 261, we saw the strawweight title fight that the world had been waiting to see. Zhang Weili (21-2) was set to defend her title against the former champion Rose Namajunas (10-4).

“Thug” Rose has been through a lot over the past few years. The former UFC champion went to the top of the sport and shocked the world at UFC 217 when she defeated the long reigning champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Immediately, the two strawweights ran things back and Namajunas again got the better of Joanna. There was no doubting that Rose Namajunas was the best strawweight in the UFC.

However, outside the cage, Thug Rose was struggling. The anxiety and pressure of being the champion was weighing heavy on her. At UFC 237, Namajunas lost her title when she got knocked out by a slam by Jessica Andrade.

Most champions would be extremely upset, but Namajunas seemed relieved more than anything. In fact, she contemplated having UFC 237 be her last fight. However, having the time to regroup, Thug Rose found her passion and fire for fighting again.

After some time away, she returned last year and avenged her loss to Jessica Andrade. That led her to UFC 261 where she took on Weili. Before the fight, a focused Namajunas could be heard saying ‘I’m the best’ during the introductions.

Early on at UFC 261, Namajunas looked light on her feet. She looked like the same Thug Rose that won the title back in 2017 and we ended up seeing the same result. A beautiful head kick came just over a minute into the first round that put Weili out and Thug Rose regained the UFC strawweight title.

What’s next after UFC 261?

This is truly such a remarkable story and UFC 261 wasn’t the end of it, it was just the end of a chapter. Now, we are going to see the second reign of Namajunas over the strawweight division.

With that being said, what’s next? Well, the UFC could always run things back with Zhang Weili. Weili looked like she was going to be extremely difficult for anyone to beat at 115 pounds, but got caught with the perfect shot early in the fight.

Because of the nature of the fight, I could see the promotion running it back. However, I’m not sure they will. If not, the fight to look to would be the Carla Esparza (17-6) and Yan Xiaonan (13-1, 1 NC) matchup that takes place next month.

These two UFC strawweights both have winning streaks of at least four heading into the fight. Whoever wins that matchup could be next in line for the UFC champion. Namajunas has history with Esparza that dates back to their first official fight in the UFC.

Esparza defeated Namajunas in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter to become the strawweight champion. Xiaonan is the surging contender from China who has gone 6-0 since joining the UFC. If she gets to 7-0, it would be hard to deny her a shot at Thug Rose.

Rose Namajunas knocks Zhang Weili out at UFC 261

In the co-main event of UFC 261, the strawweight title was on the line. Undisputed champion Zhang Weili (21-1) was set to defend her title against the former champion Rose Namajunas (9-4). In the UFC‘s most stacked female division, these two are the best of the best.

Zhang Weili has been dominant since she joined the UFC just a couple of years ago. She rose right to the top and won the strawweight title with a knockout win over Jessica Andrade. Andrade was the one who took away the strawweight title from Rose Namajunas.

Namajunas battled issues outside the cage over the last few years. At one point, Namajunas wasn’t sure whether or not she wanted to continue to fight in the UFC. In fact, she said it was almost a relief when she lost the title to Andrade.

However, she’s found that fire again. Last year, she avenged her loss to Jessica Andrade to earn that shot at Weili. Weili hasn’t fought in almost a year, but the UFC strawweight champion was looking to show the world that she’s without a doubt the best at 115 pounds.

UFC 261 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 261 co-main event kicked off with no touch of the gloves as Namajunas was all business. Weili plots forward and starts the striking with a leg kick. Both ladies exchange big jabs and Weili follows with a nice leg kick. Good jab lands for the former champion.

Another good leg kick lands for the UFC strawweight champion. A massive headkick lands for Namajunas and this one is over. Thug Rose is the strawweight champion once again!

Rose Namajunas def. Zhang Weili by KO – Round 1

UFC 261 Preview: Zhang Weili – Rose Namajunas

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 261, we are going to see the strawweight title fight that the world has been waiting for. Undisputed strawweight champion Zhang Weili (21-1) will defend her title against the former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (9-4).

Zhang Weili made her UFC debut back in 2018. She immediately won three fights in a row and the promotion saw a ton of potential in her. The UFC has been trying to grow their Chinese presence and they saw Weili as the perfect fighter to assist with that.

Despite only being sixth in the rankings, the UFC had Weili challenge for the title against Jessica Andrade in China. Andrade was the betting favorite, but that night, Weili wasn’t going to be denied. A huge flurry in the first round stopped Andrade and won Weili the title.

After that win, Weili went on to defend her title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the 2020 fight of the year. Weili took the title from Jessica Andrade while Andrade took the title away from Rose Namajunas. A few years ago, Namajunas looked like she was going to be the next dominant female UFC champion.

She had two wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk and she looked like she was primed for a run. However, she was dealing with a lot of issues outside the cage and it impacted her. Andrade finished her to take her title. However, at UFC 251 a newly motivated Rose Namajunas got that win back against Andrade.

UFC 261 Prediction

This UFC 261 co-main event might steal the show tomorrow night. I’m so pumped for this fight and I believe we are seeing the two best strawweights in the world go at it. When it comes to the overall game, I have to say that I like Rose Namajunas.

Her striking technique is incredibly slick. She’s also got great skills on the ground and she’s always threatening with submissions. Overall technique and diversity in skillset go to the former champion. However, there is just something truly special about Zhang Weili.

Her striking is very good and there is no doubting the fact that she has the strength and power advantage. While Rose Namajunas is ultra talented, there’s something in me that can’t bet against the current UFC champion. I think we are in for another war, but I think Weili is going to do more damage which will win her a razor close decision.

Prediction: Zhang Weili by Split Decision

UFC officially books Zhang Weili – Rose Namajunas

The UFC has finalized one of the more anticipated women’s title fights of 2021. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was the first to report that the promotion has verbal agreements in place for the strawweight title fight between Zhang Weili (21-1) and Rose Namajunas (9-4).

The matchup will take place at UFC 261 on April 24th. The title fight is the second women’s title fight on the card. This week we learned that the promotion had also finalized the title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade. 

While this was always the fight to make, it wasn’t the easiest road getting here. Rose Namajunas is the clear number one contender in the strawweight division. She solidified her spot when she got redemption against Jessica Andrade at UFC 251.

However, Dana White came out and said that he wasn’t sure if Namajunas wanted the fight. The promotion had actually kicked the tires on moving on from this matchup, but ultimately the fight got done.

Namajunas is a former UFC strawweight champion and her reign was cut short by a Jessica Andrade slam. That was her only loss since 2016 and she’s already avenged that loss. She is clearly the second best fighter in the strawweight division right now.

UFC’s new superstar

Over the last couple of years, Zhang Weili has taken the UFC by storm. In August of 2019, Weili finished Jessica Andrade in the first round to become the strawweight champion. She is the first UFC champion from China and she won the title in China.

From there, Weili had the Fight of the Year in 2020 against the former long-time champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Weili was pushed to the absolute limit, but in the end, she was able to win a split decision to retain her UFC strawweight title.

Being on this card to me isn’t a coincidence. Dana White has publicly said that he wouldn’t mind seeing Weili move up to 125 pounds to challenge Valentina Shevchenko should she beat Rose Namajunas. I believe the UFC is putting these two title fights together hoping a superfight materializes.

This fight should be incredible given the skillsets of both of these ladies. Namajunas looked like she was poised to be the champion for a long time before that Andrade slam. Now, it’s hard to imagine anyone beating Weili at 115 pounds. This should be a good one on April 24th.

In the UFC’s women’s divisions, who will be a champion after 2021?

This week I’ve gone through all of the men’s divisions in the UFC. From flyweight to heavyweight predicting who will walk out of 2021 with a title around their waste. Well, what about the women’s divisions?

The UFC‘s four women’s are currently controlled by three of the very best fighters in the world. Amanda Nunes (20-4), Valentina Shevchenko (20-3), and Weili Zhang (21-1) stand on top of the four divisions.

Nunes reigns over the UFC‘s featherweight and bantamweight divisions. Shevchenko is the queen of the bantamweights while Weili Zhang is the champion at strawweight which is the best division in women’s MMA.

This year there plans to be a number of exciting female matchups in the UFC. As mentioned, the strawweight division is completely stacked and there is the potential of some super fights between champions in 2021.

The UFC is planning for a massive year in 2021 and the women figure to be a big part of that. The question then becomes, will any of the current champions lose their crowns in 2021?

UFC champions after 2021

Strawweight – Weili Zhang

In my opinion, the UFC champion that has the highest chance of losing in 2021 is Weili Zhang when it comes to the women. That’s not a knock on her at all, but it’s more of a testament to how good the strawweight division is.

That said, I believe that she will still be the UFC strawweight champion after 2021 is over. Weili only fought once in 2020 and it was the fight of the year. She defended her title against arguably the greatest strawweight of all time, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4).

At UFC 248, Weili showed me something we hadn’t seen from her yet. She showed that she can really dig down deep in a tough fight. Joanna pushed her to the limit, but Weili was game for five rounds and won a split decision.

Her first test of 2021 will likely come against Rose Namajunas (9-4). Thug Rose is the number one contender, but there have been hurdles in making the fight. Should it get made, I’m expecting another fantastic matchup.

However, in the end, I think that Weili Zhang is just the better fighter overall. If she loses in 2021, I really don’t believe it’ll be at strawweight. Her only loss would be if she moves up to take on the UFC’s flyweight champion.

Flyweight – Valentina Shevchenko

You can make the argument that the best female fighter in the UFC is Valentina Shevchenko. Of course as long as Amanda Nunes is the champ-champ, she will hold onto the number one spot in the pound-for-pound rankings.

However, you can make the argument that Shevchenko actually defeated Nunes the last time they fought at UFC 215. Nunes won by split decision in a fight that I actually scored for Shevchenko.

The reality is, there is no one at 125 pounds that I see posing a threat to Shevchenko. Her first title defense of 2021 will come against Jessica Andrade (21-8). The former strawweight champion made her flyweight debut with a bang in October.

She was able to stop Katlyn Chookagian in the first round with body shots. Andrade definitely has the power to make it interesting, however, I just don’t see her being able to hang with the overall skillset of Shevchenko.

Bantamweight & Featherweight – Amanda Nunes

This is another easy one. Outside of Valentina Shevchenko, who can really challenge Amanda Nunes in 2021? She’s defending her featherweight title against Megan Anderson (11-4) at UFC 259.

Anderson should give Nunes some interesting challenges given her height and range. However, does anyone really believe that Megan Anderson will be the one to dethrone Amanda Nunes?

Nunes is on another level from most of her competition. She is the greatest female fighter to ever live. Nunes holds two victories over Shevchenko, she’s knocked out Cris Cyborg, she’s knocked out Ronda Rousey, she’s knocked out Holly Holm, and I could go on.

It is truly something special to watch her compete inside the octagon. 2021 is going to be interesting in that I could see the UFC pairing Nunes and Shevchenko up a third time. The only way Nunes or Shevchenko lose in 2021 is if they fight each other.

Honestly, I don’t know how that fight would go. Of course you’d have to favor Nunes. However, Shevchenko has all the skill to be able to hang with her. It’s a superfight that I desperately want to see in 2021.

UFC: Rose Namajunas says she’s ready to fight in response to Dana White’s comments

One of the more anticipated UFC title matchups in 2021 was supposed to be the fight between Weili Zhang (21-1) and Rose Namajunas (9-4). Originally, this fight was supposed to take place in the first quarter of 2021.

Namajunas returned to the cage at UFC 251 where she avenged her loss to Jessica Andrade. Andrade had defeated Namajunas for the UFC strawweight title a year prior at UFC 237.

During that year-plus layoff, Andrade lost the UFC strawweight title to Zhang. Zhang and Namajunas are looked at as the top two strawweights in the world by a decent margin.

From a stylistic perspective, the fight promised to be extremely competitive. Since 2017, Namajunas had looked sensational in the UFC. Her only hiccup was getting knocked out by an Andrade slam in a fight she was dominating.

Last week, Dana White came out and put a little on water on the fire of this fight. In an interview with BT Sport, White said that he was hearing that Namajunas didn’t want the UFC strawweight title fight. 

With that in mind, the promotion would look at potentially booking Zhang against Carla Esparza. Rose Namajunas appeared in a livestream on her YouTube channel over the weekend where she addressed White’s comments.

What’s next in the UFC’s strawweight division

“I’m just ready to fight. I don’t know what’s going on, but I know you guys are ready for me to fight too. Maybe there’s a misconception out there that I’m weak minded or whatever. That’s not true. That’s what I live for. I’m the pressure cooker,” Namajunas said.

Certainly, Namajunas doesn’t sound like someone who doesn’t have the desire to fight for the UFC title. It’s worth noting that we really don’t know exactly what is going on behind the scenes with Rose’s camp and the UFC.

It’s well known that Dana White doesn’t always get involved with negotiations. A lot of the time it’s the match makers and legal teams working on fights while White focuses his time on promoting the fights that are already booked.

However, White does get involved when needed. It seems clear that White was passed along the message that Rose wasn’t interested in the title fight. However, Namajunas’ camp is adamant that isn’t true.

Both sides need to get together to resolve this issue. No disrespect to Carla Esparza, but nobody is itching to see her fight for the UFC title at the moment. The fight to make is Zhang against Namajunas.

I’ll be curious to see how this situation plays out over the next few weeks. If they figure this out, I would expect the UFC strawweight title fight to take place in either March or April.

Per Dana White, Rose Namajunas doesn’t want the next UFC title shot

For the last couple of months, fans have been anticipating the next UFC strawweight title fight. The fight was expected to be Weili Zhang (21-1) and Rose Namajunas (9-4). A fight that would truly pair the best two strawweights in the world.

Namajunas was the reigning UFC strawweight champion prior to her loss to Jessica Andrade. In that title defense, Namajunas was winning until she was slammed and knocked out by Jessica Andrade.

Andrade would go on to lose her first UFC title defense to Zhang. Namajunas was very vocal about being relieved when she lost and that she didn’t like the pressures and anxiety that came with being UFC champion.

However, she found that fighting spirit again in 2020 and she got back in the cage. She took on Andrade and was able to avenge her loss which was supposed to setup the anticipated title fight with Zhang.

The promotion has been saying that was the fight they were going to make. However, Dana White changed his tune in an interview with BT Sport. White said, “What I’m hearing is Rose does not want a title shot. She doesn’t want to fight for the title.”

What is the UFC going to do?

After this, Rose Namajunas’ fiancé/head coach told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that the information from Dana White was false. Pat Berry told Helwani that Namajunas definitely wants the UFC title shot.

However, White doesn’t seem to think so. White would go on to say in the interview that Carla Esparza (17-6) is the fight they are currently looking at for Weili Zhang. No disrespect to Esparza, but nobody really wants to see that fight.

Yes, Esparza is on a four-fight winning streak, however, none of those were that incredibly impressive. Her last two wins were razor close split decisions that many had going the other way.

This is not a high profile UFC strawweight title fight. Zhang – Namajunas is the fight to make, however, if the UFC can’t come to a deal, they will move on. Looks like they have a plan in place. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation shakes out.

UFC: Weili Zhang – Rose Namajunas targeted for Q1 2021

One of the more anticipated matchups in any of the UFC‘s female divisions is the next title match in the strawweight division. We already know that champion, Weili Zhang (21-1), will be taking on former UFC champion, Rose Namajunas (9-4).

However, the timeline for the fight has been up in the air. After Namajunas defeated Jessica Andrade back at UFC 251, it was announced that she would need to take some time off to get surgery.

Of course, Zhang has been sidelined in China due to the pandemic. All of these factors have delayed the inevitable showdown between the two. We have not seen Zhang since her Fight of the Year performance against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248.

By the time Zhang competes next, it would have been almost a year layoff for the champion. Her coach conducted an interview with MMA Fighting recently where he talked through the timeline of the UFC title fight.

“We’ll see how things go with this virus,” Pedro Jordao told MMA Fighting. “But I think probably be in the first quarter. We’re training for a while here. It appears that her next fight will be against Rose, but nothing is set yet. Everything indicates that’s the plan.”

UFC Strawweight Title

I think I can speak for most fans in saying that this is arguably the most exciting matchup in the UFC‘s strawweight division. Namajunas and Zhang are the two best in the world at 115 and I think there’s a gap between them and the pack.

Namajunas looked incredibly sharp at UFC 251 in the first couple of rounds. However, she ran into some major trouble in the third round with Jessica Andrade. Namajunas was rocked and hurt badly by the former champion.

However, she still did enough to get the decision. Zhang had an absolute war with Jedrzejczyk last March. It was really the first time in her UFC career that Zhang had been pushed to the limit.

Nevertheless, Zhang was able to get the unanimous decision victory. She’s sensational and should be the big favorite going into the title fight with Namajunas. However, Namajunas has world class skills that could give Zhang some problems in their matchup.

This fight is so exciting for a number of different reasons. While Zhang is clearly the more powerful fighter, Namajunas has extremely clean and crisp technique on her feet. I’m fascinated to see the gameplans for both fighters whenever they clash.