Rose Namajunas, Valentina Shevchenko Victorious At UFC 261With a single strike, “Thug” Rose Namajunas regained the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship in quick and violent fashion tonight at UFC 261: “Usman vs Masvidal 2” in Jacksonville, Florida. Namajunas dispatched of Weili “Magnum” Zhang with a first-round head kick in the co-main event.

Tonight’s win was Namajunas’s second since losing her title to Jéssica “Bate Estaca” Andrade at UFC 237; a loss that Namajunas avenged in July. Andrade’s bid for the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship ended in a defeat tonight when she was submitted by Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko.


Namajunas (10-4-0) and Zhang (21-2-0) circled each other in the opening minute tonight and traded single strikes until Namajunas stepped forward and faked a low kick. Just as Zhang lowered her guard, Namajunas threw a head kick instead that landed flush on Zhang’s jaw and sent her crashing to the mat. Zhang regained consciousness as Namajunas blasted her with hammerfists on the ground and referee Keith Peterson dove in to stop the fight at the 1:18 mark of round one. A badly dazed Zhang initially protested the stoppage before seeing a replay that showed that she was clearly out.

Prior to tonight’s fight, Namajunas had faced some backlash for comments that she had made about Zhang and the country of China during an interview. Namajunas addressed that during her post-fight speech, apologised and reaffirmed that she had respect for people from all backgrounds. Former champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk expressed an interest in facing the winner of the Namajunas-Zhang bout, but Namajunas twice defeated Jędrzejczyk in the past and her first title challenger remains uncertain.


In yet another dominant performance, Shevchenko (22-3-0) overwhelmed Andrade (21-9-0) on the ground until she was able to finish her with elbows from a mounted crucifix at the 3:19 mark of round two.

After catching a leg kick early in round one, Shevchenko scored her first of many takedowns and she continued to put Andrade on the mat each time she stood up. Andrade eventually gave up her back and Shevchenko looked for a rear-naked choke. Andrade defended well, but Shevchenko closed out the round on top in side control.

In round two, Shevchenko slammed Andrade back down to the mat. Andrade battled back to her feet and tried to elevate Shevchenko into the air for a slam, but Shevchenko had none of that and she put Andrade on the ground again. This time, Shevchenko moved to a top-side crucifix and she landed numerous punches as Andrade struggled to defend. Shevchenko switched to elbows, which cut Andrade, and referee Dan Miragliotta waved off the fight.

Shevchenko has now won seven straight fights since suffering a razor-thin Split Decision loss to women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda “Lioness” Nunes in their September 2017 rematch. While a third bout with Nunes could happen in the future, Shevchenko will likely next face the winner of the fight between “Lucky” Lauren Murphy and Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood at UFC 263 in June.


On tonight’s preliminary card, Ariane “Sorriso” Carnelossi (13-2-0) and Na “Dragon Girl” Liang (13-5-0) engaged in an all-out war at strawweight before Carnelossi finally finished an exhausted Liang with punches at the 1:28 mark of the second round.

Liang dropped Carnelossi with a right hook to open the fight, but Carnelossi recovered and fired back with a hard one-two before Liang took her down. The fight returned to the feet, where both women landed flurries of punches, and Liang took Carnelossi down once more. After both women failed with armbar attempts, Carnelossi took Liang’s back and hunted for a rear-naked choke before switching to a triangle choke when Liang swept into top position. Liang escaped, but Carnelossi closed out the round with ground and pound and Liang was very slow to get up at the bell.

After an early exchange of punches in round two, Liang trapped Carnelossi in a headlock and used it to take her down. Carnelossi escaped and looked to finish the fight with a rear-naked choke. Liang escaped again, but she gave up top position and Carnelossi rained down punches. Liang could barely defend herself and the fight was waved off, giving Carnelossi a thrilling comeback win after a rough start in the opening minutes.



(Photo Credit: UFC)