Jéssica Andrade Wants a Trilogy Fight vs. Rose Namajunas
The MMA community continues to enjoy a flurry fight weekends.
Saturday’s highly anticipated title defense by undefeated heavyweight WBC champion Tyson Fury will be held. There will also be a fight night from UFC and back to back shows from Bellator.
UFC’s Saturday card features Amanda Lemos against Jessica Andrade, a meeting of top strawweight competitors. Lemos has won her last five, and a victory here would be a chance to shoot up from the 10th spot in the rankings. She has not been tested by anyone with the same level of seasoning and mettle as Andrade, who is sixth on the UFC’s women-pound-for-pound top rankings. Andrade and Lemos are both known for their knockout power and should make for a fast-paced main event.
Bellator 278 and 279 are also cards with some interesting fights this weekend, particularly during the opening round of the Bantamweight World Grand Prix on Saturday. Cris Cyborg should also enjoy another win, building towards a long-awaited bout against Cat Zingano, before a possible showdown in PFL against Kayla Harrison.
As we approach a quiet exciting weekend of fights. Here is a closer look at two nights:
Jessica Andrade’s win tomorrow night will put her in prime position to challenge for the title.
Already the top-ranked contender in the women’s flyweight division, a win against Amanda Lemos would propel Andrade (22-9) into a bout against strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. That would be familiar territory for the 30-year-old Andrade, who defeated Namajunas for the belt in the spring of 2019. Namajunas won the rematch in a split decision after a three-round fight one year later.
“That’s all I want, a five round fight against Rose,” said Andrade through a translator. “Our first fight went my direction, and then in our second fight, I believe that I was turning the tide when it was about to end. It was only three rounds. It was only three rounds. I don’t think I would have won.
“I want to fight the best in the world, and the goal is to get back in title contention against Rose.”
That focus on Namajunas is not meant to overlook Lemos (11-1-1). She had an extremely impressive 2021, defeating Livia Renata Souza, Montserrat Ruiz, and Angela Hill. Yet none of those fighters are anywhere near Andrade’s level, making this the toughest test yet for the 34-year-old Lemos.
“Amanda has a very good streak,” Andrade stated. “She’s done a lot of interesting things in the cage. But I’m ready for any danger she presents. There is no comparison between what I’ve seen and what she’s seen. But she’s done her job and has beaten all those in front of him. She knows that I am a landmark. I’ve fought the highest level of competition, and I’m more than ready for whatever she throws at me.”
Andrade’s recent run in the flyweight division was short. While she won against Katlyn Chookagian and Cynthia Calvillo, Andrade was beaten by Valentina Shevchenko, the reigning champion. The possibility of a second title reign is possible with the move back to strawweight. Andrade will be right where she wants to be, right in the title mix, if she wins this fight.
“A win here won’t give me a title shot yet,” Andrade stated. “The division is stacked. But it’s a step in the right direction.”
Belal Muhammad stole the spotlight with his performance last Saturday at the Apex, defeating Vicente Luque by unanimous decision in a gritty five-round fight.
This was redemption for Muhammad (21-3, 1 NC), who was unceremoniously knocked out by Luque (21-8-1) in their first meeting six years ago on a Conor McGregor-dominated UFC 205 pay-per-view, lasting only 79 seconds on the undercard inside the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden before Luque had his hand raised. Muhammad dominated the pace of the rematch, keeping Luque from landing any takedowns and preventing him from landing any walkoff shots.
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The win was impressive, and it catapults Muhammad (21-3, 1 NC) into the top five of the welterweight division. It also raised questions about whether Muhammad has reached the ceiling in this division. He called out Colby Covington after the victory. However, the loud-mouthed Covington is a step ahead of Muhammad as a striker, and is well on his way to becoming a wrestler.
Muhammad’s ground game exposed flaws this past weekend. He was landing takedowns but couldn’t capitalize on his mat even when Luque was nearby. Luque’s grappling skills will not be confused with Covington’s, nor will his cardio. Khamzat Chimaev is a better opponent for Covington than Muhammad.
Gilbert Burns would be a better choice for Muhammad. This would help determine who belongs in the top 4.
Taking place in Singapore, this morning’s ONE 156 card featured a compelling strawweight bout pitting Jarred Brooks against Bokang Masunyane. And the fight delivered, as Brooks ended Masunyane’s undefeated streak, locking in his rear-naked choke and winning by submission with only 21 seconds left in the opening round.
This was a strawweight title eliminator. Masunyane (8-1), had ragdolling opponents and had clear advantages going into the bout. He is bigger than Brooks and missed weight-yet Brooks (19-2, 1 NC) just cruised here.
That marks five in a row for Brooks, who deserved a longer stretch in the UFC (and, looking back, was right there with Deiveson Figueiredo in that split decision loss in 2017). Brooks will now be able to meet Joshua Pacio, the ONE strawweight champion. This could happen as soon as June or Jul.
For the first time since his devastating loss to Sergio Pettis this past December, Kyoji Horiguchi steps back into the cage for Bellator 279. Horiguchi (29-4) fights Patchy Mix in the opening round of the Bantamweight World Grand Prix, seeking to return to form after dropping two of his last three fights.
“I can’t focus on the past,” Horiguchi told Sports Illustrated. “I train to make sure the next fight is different.”
Training is a core value for Horiguchi, who is also the reigning RIZIN bantamweight champ. Horiguchi Hall was his barracks at American Top Team in Florida. During the training process, he found his home and his heartbeat.
” I’m not here by accident,” Horiguchi stated. “All my training has brought me here. It is hard, but I am very happy when I am training.”
Only 31, Horiguchi still has a lot to prove, starting with the Bantamweight World Grand Prix and his opening round bout against Mix (15-1). Horiguchi stated that
“MMA was like a puzzle. “Recovering from injuries, and getting into a fight at the best. My opponent is my focus. I want to win this tournament. Then I will concentrate on a rematch with Pettis. First, I have to finish this fight.”
More MMA Coverage:
- How Patricio Pitbull Broke A.J. McKee’s Undefeated Record and Spirit
- Q&A: Alexander Volkanovski Talks Title Defense at UFC 273 and What’s Next
- Belal Muhammad Outworks Vicente Luque at UFC on ESPN 34, Calls Out Colby Covington
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.