Former UFC title challenger “Thug” Rose Namajunas made a strong case for another shot at championship gold with a thrilling win tonight at UFC on FOX 24: “Johnson vs Reis” in Kansas City, Missouri. Namajunas submitted Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson in the strawweight co-main event.
Waterson survived a head-kick knockdown early in the second round, but Namajunas was relentless on the ground and she ultimately finished her foe with a rear-naked choke. In bantamweight action, Ketlen “Fenomeno” Vieira kept her unbeaten record intact with a victory over Ashlee Evans-Smith.
Namajunas (6-3-0) countered Waterson’s (14-5-0) early side kicks with right hands, but Waterson got the fight to the ground after securing a headlock throw into the scarf hold position. Namajunas scrambled and took Waterson’s back, and she used a full nelson to set up a transition to top position. From there, Namajunas dropped elbows and avoided Waterson’s submission attempts until the fight returned to the feet. Waterson remained effective with side kicks to the legs and body, but Namajunas took her down again before the bell.
The second round began with Waterson landing a variety of kicks, but Namajunas used a one-two to set up a vicious head kick that sent a badly dazed Waterson crashing to the mat. Namajunas dove in with more punches and elbows on the ground, but Waterson recovered and she battled back up to her feet. Namajunas immediately hopped on her back and sunk in a tight rear-naked choke. She pulled Waterson back down to the mat and Waterson tapped out to the choke at the 2:47 mark.
Tonight’s crucial victory puts Namajunas back in title contention following her razor-thin Split Decision loss to recent title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz in July. She has won four of her past five fights inside the Octagon.
Winner: Rose Namajunas by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 2:47 of round two. She improves to 6-3-0.
Vieira (8-0-0) kicked off tonight’s card with a well-deserved victory over Evans-Smith (5-2-0) in a bantamweight battle that was contested entirely on the feet.
Vieira landed early combinations of hooks and uppercuts before clinching with Evans-Smith against the cage. When Evans-Smith circled away, Vieira cracked her with a five-punch flurry. Evans-Smith clinched and landed uppercuts to the body, but Vieira countered with knees and she backed Evans-Smith up against the fence once again. Big right hands were exchanged and Vieira scored with combinations. Evans-Smith landed a liver kick, but she ate a series of hard punches. Vieira clinched for a takedown, but Evans-Smith grabbed the top of the cage and the round ended with an exchange of punches.
Vieira flurried to the body in round two and stuffed a takedown attempt. She landed a one-two to Evans-Smith’s jaw and fought off another takedown in a clinch against the cage. Vieira dragged Evans-Smith down and took her back as the fighters stood back up, but Evans-Smith eventually broke free and she threw leg kicks and wild spinning backfists. Vieira snapped Evans-Smith’s head back with two right hands and she followed with more punches that appeared to stun her opponent. Evans-Smith recovered and pressed forward with punches, but Vieira tagged her with counter hooks and uppercuts and finished the round with a body kick.
Evans-Smith knocked Vieira down with a right hand in the final round, but Vieira rolled backwards and initiated a clinch after returning to her feet. She took Evans-Smith’s back and held her against the cage while throwing knees to the thighs. The fighters were separated and both women landed right hooks. Vieira flurried to the body and head, but Evans-Smith finally connected with a spinning backfist and she looked to set up a takedown. In the final 15 seconds, Vieira landed two big flurries and she backed Evans-Smith up with a right hook just before time expired.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Vieira, who improved to 2-0 inside the Octagon. The Brazilian prospect previously earned a decision win in her October UFC debut.
Winner: Ketlen Vieira by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) after three rounds. She improves to 8-0-0.
(Photo Credit: UFC)