Matches to Make After UFC 237

By Brian Knapp May 12, 2019

Jessica Andrade needed mere seconds to alter the course of history.

The Brazilian powerhouse captured the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight title with a slam knockout of Rose Namajunas in the UFC 237 main event on Saturday at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Namajunas surrendered her grip on the 115-pound throne 2:58 into Round 2 before a ravenous crowd of 15,193.

“Thug Rose” floored Andrade with a first-round knee strike, fed her an unhealthy diet of jabs, utilized superior footwork and generally outstruck the Parana Vale Tudo standout across seven-plus minutes of a thrilling encounter. The tide shifted in Round 2 and did so dramatically. Andrade bullied the champion to the fence, executed a high-crotch lift -- a maneuver she had attempted on two prior occasions -- and slammed her headfirst into the canvas. The impact separated Namajunas from her faculties and made Andrade the UFC’s fourth strawweight champion.

In the aftermath of UFC 237 “Namajunas vs. Andrade,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

Jessica Andrade vs. Tatiana Suarez-Nina Ansaroff winner: Calls have already gone out for an Andrade-Namajunas rematch, and while a strong case can be made for one, the options at 115 pounds are aplenty. They include former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who lost twice to Namajunas but owns a May 2017 decision victory over Andrade. However, Jedrzejczyk has gone 1-3 over her past four appearances and last competed as a flyweight at UFC 231, where she failed in her bid to unseat 125-pound titleholder Valentina Shevchenko on Dec. 8. A forward-thinking approach would steer the UFC in the direction of the Suarez-Ansaroff showdown on at UFC 238 in June.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway: Volkanovski affirmed his place as one of the sport’s premier featherweights, as he pushed around former champion Jose Aldo for three rounds on his way to a unanimous decision. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for the 30-year-old Australian, who finds himself on a remarkable 17-fight winning streak that now covers more than six years. The FightMetric figures were jarring: Volkanovski outlanded Aldo 129-39 in total strikes and 95-29 in significant strikes. Holloway, the reigning featherweight titleholder, moved up to 155 pounds at UFC 236 in April and lost a five-round decision to Dustin Poirier in a battle for the interim lightweight championship.

Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson: While a win over the great Anderson Silva no longer carries the weight it once did, Cannonier got the job done as a co-headliner in front of an overtly hostile crowd. “The Killa Gorilla” unwound Silva with a devastating inside leg kick that buckled his knee, put the former middleweight champion on the canvas in visible distress and left him unable to continue 4:47 into the first round. Cannonier, 35, has rattled off back-to-back victories since he downshifted to 185 pounds and appears poised to make waves in the division Silva once ruled. Brunson last competed at UFC Fight Night 151 on May 4, when he took a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” winner Elias Theodorou.

Laureano Staropoli vs. Dwight Grant: Staropoli moved to 2-0 in the UFC with a unanimous verdict over American Top Team’s Thiago Alves in a three-round welterweight showcase. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28, all for the Argentinian. A wide array of kicks, stance switches and effective combinations carried Staropoli against a past-his-prime opponent who struggled to pull the trigger. Alves surged in the third round, where he staggered the 26-year-old with a right hook and gave chase in a bid to finish. However, his efforts failed to yield the desired results and allowed Staropoli to walk away having curried the judges’ favor. Grant extended his winning streak to two fights at UFC 236 on April 13, as he eked out a split decision over Alan Jouban. The American Kickboxing Academy representative used Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series as his springboard to the UFC.

Irene Aldana vs. Yana Kunitskaya: Perhaps Aldana has finally turned the corner. The 31-year-old Lobo Gym export won for the third time in as many appearances, as she submitted Bethe Correia with an armbar in the third round of their women’s bantamweight feature. Correia bowed out 3:24 into Round 3, tapping out for the first time in her 15-fight career. Since losing back-to-back bouts to Leslie Smith and Katlyn Chookagian, Aldana has beaten Correia, Lucie Pudilova and Talita Bernardo in succession. Kunitskaya last appeared at UFC Fight Night 146, where she was awarded a unanimous decision over Marion Reneau on March 9.
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