Rose Namajunas Shocks Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 04: Rose Namajunas celebrates her victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland in their UFC women's strawweight championship bout during the UFC 217 event at Madison Square Garden on November 4, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

UFC 217 was supposed to see Joanna Jedrzejczyk crowned as the greatest female fighter in UFC history. But, as often happens, a wrench was thrown into those carefully laid plans.

The wrench in this case was a shocking upset victory by Rose Namajunas. 

For a brief time, the bout was shaping up to be a standard Jedrzejczyk fight. Namajunas waded forward, overextending on punches while Jedrzejczyk backpedaled and countered repeatedly. At the midpoint of the round, a stiff right hand rocked Jedrzejczyk and put her on the canvas. While she quickly worked her way back up, the shot left her visibly dazed.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is one of the most successful champions in recent UFC history.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is one of the most successful champions in recent UFC history.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Namajunas knew this, too, and walked her down before landing a big left hook. Jedrzejczyk was down again, but while she was able to slip away during a scramble the first time, Namajunas poured on punches from back control. With no referee to be seen, Jedrzejczyk tapped to strikes, giving Namajunas the stoppage victory at 3:03 of Round 1.

It's one of the most absurd upsets in recent UFC history.

Few gave Namajunas much of a shot against Jedrzejczyk. The longtime champion had made handy work of nearly every contender, including women who previously defeated Namajunas, such as Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Carla Esparza. The only avenue to victory for Namajunas seemed to be a Hail Mary submission attempt, but instead, Namajunas stunned Jedrzejczyk, and essentially the entire MMA universe, by besting her standing.

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While this upset theoretically opens up the stagnant UFC strawweight division, any discussion about fresh matchups should be paused. Odds are Jedrzejczyk will receive an immediate rematch, and while Namajunas pulled off the upset here, it's hard to feel like lightning will strike the same place twice.

That said, Namajunas has long been regarded as one of the best pure talents in the sport. Coming onto the scene at 21 years old with a flying armbar submission of Kathina Lowe, she demonstrated amazing growth up to (and through) her stint on The Ultimate Fighter Season 20. While she fell short of winning the title against Esparza in the finale, it was easy to buy into her as a future elite.

So has Namajunas realized her pound-for-pound potential? Or was this just her capitalizing on a bad day for Joanna Champion? Expect to find out in early 2018.

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