Joanna Champion returned to Madison Square Garden for the second time at UFC 217 on Saturday. This time, it was Ultimate Fighter 20 runner-up “Thug” Rose Namajunas vying for her strawweight crown.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk had long reigned over the strawweight division, winning the belt in 2015 against Carla Esparza and holding it ever since. UFC 217 would mark her sixth title defense, and a win would tie her with Ronda Rousey for the most title defenses in UFC history on the women’s side.
Rose Namajunas, meanwhile, was getting her second crack at strawweight gold, having competed against Esparza in the inaugural 115lb title fight. Having come up short there, she was looking to make the most of her second chance. Namajunas was coming into the bout off a win over Michelle Waterson, while Joanna Champion had never been defeated.
It was Namajunas who landed first in the first title fight of the night, striking out with a leg kick. She’d then catch Jedrzejczyk with a left, but get caught herself with a counter right. Rose then cracked the champion, knocking her down! Joanna was in real trouble, but was able to survive as Namajunas failed to pressure her enough, allowing her back to the feet.
Just when you thought things would settle down, Namajunas connected again with a left hand, dropping Jedrzejczyk for the second time! Follow up strikes to Joanna came in a barrage and she would cover up and eventually tap to the strikes. All the talk of Joanna Champion’s dominance went out like that, as Rose Namajunas shocked the world.
Your new UFC women’s strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas!
Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk by knockout, Round 1, 3:03