UFC 237: Jessica Andrade claims strawweight title with stunning victory over Rose Namajunas

By Simon HeadMMA writer
Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas
Namajunas (left) had not fought since her victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 223 in April 2018

Brazil's Jessica Andrade claimed a spectacular knockout victory over defending champion Rose Namajunas to claim the UFC women's strawweight world title at UFC 237 in Rio.

Andrade, whose nickname 'Bate Estaca' translates as 'pile driver', used a move similar to that of her fighting moniker to turn her title fight with American Namajunas on its head.

Namajunas had performed brilliantly in the opening round and appeared to have the clear advantage after the first five-minutes of the contest.

And it looked like things would go the same way in the second round before Andrade picked up the champion and spectacularly slammed her into the canvas, knocking her out instantly, at Jeunesse Arena on Saturday night.

"I was very certain of what I had to do in that second round," said the 27-year-old Parana native after the win.

"You know, I never thrown that move, I'd never pile-drived in the UFC. That's my nickname, so I'm very happy to do that.

"I noticed she was slowing down, and I wanted to be able to knock her out."

Andrade's win saw her claim the UFC women's strawweight title at the second attempt after her first tilt at the belt ended in defeat to then-champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 211 in May 2017.

Namajunas then stunned Jedrzejczyk in the first round to capture the title in the Pole's next title defence six months later at UFC 217. She beat her again in an immediate rematch at UFC 223 in April 2018.

The latter win came just days after Namajunas was on the minibus that was infamously attacked by Conor McGregor at the Barclays Center as the Irishman chased a confrontation with Russian rival Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Namajunas wasn't physically injured during the incident, but she subsequently said that it had taken a significant emotional toll on her and she needed to take time away from the octagon to rest and recuperate.

During that time, Andrade reeled off a hat-trick of victories to return to the front of the strawweight queue and book her place in Saturday night's title fight with Namajunas.

And, after claiming a spectacular win, she dedicated the title to her coach, who has been with her throughout her mixed martial arts career.

Meanwhile, despite being defeated, Namajunas said there was an element of relief after losing her world title: "It's just a huge pressure off my shoulders."

Andrade's stunning knockout gave the Brazilian fans a rare moment of national success on a night that saw Brazilian fighters defeated in each of the other four main card bouts.

Anderson Silva and Jared Cannonier
Anderson Silva (right) suffered a knee injury against Jared Cannonier

Cannonier's kick finishes 'The Spider'

Former UFC middleweight champion and all-time great Anderson Silva was finished by Jared Cannonier after sustaining a knee injury late in the opening round.

Cannonier, 35, connected with a powerful kick that landed inside the Brazilian legend's right knee, sending 44-year-old Silva to the mat in obvious pain and forcing the bout to be waved off.

After the contest, Silva revealed he had carried a knee problem into the fight and Cannonier's kick exposed it.

Despite showing the injured Silva plenty of respect after the fight, Cannonier was less than impressed with the Rio crowd, whose deafening boos filled the arena during his post-fight interview.

"If the crowd don't respect me, then I've got no respect for them," he said.

Volkanovski calls for a title shot

Also on the main card, Australian featherweight contender Alexander Volkanovski claimed the biggest win of his career with a shutout decision victory over Brazilian two-time former featherweight champion Jose Aldo.

Former rugby league player Volkanovski, 30, won all three rounds on all three judges' scorecards to extend his winning streak to 17, with the last seven of those coming in the UFC.

And after his victory, the New South Wales native called for a shot at UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway and suggested they meet when the UFC returns Down Under for the forthcoming middleweight title fight between Australian world champ Robert Whittaker and Kiwi challenger Israel Adesanya later this year.

The other two main card bouts saw Brazilian former world title challengers Thiago Alves and Bethe Correia fall to defeats.

Former welterweight contender Alves was beaten on the scorecards by Argentine Laureano Staropoli, while Correia, who unsuccessfully challenged Ronda Rousey for the UFC women's bantamweight title in 2015, was submitted by Mexico's Irene Aldana.