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UFC 223: Pros predict Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

NEW YORK CITY — Rose Namajunas will defend her UFC strawweight belt for the very first time on Saturday night. And she will be attempting her first defense against the same woman she took the title from – Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

This 115-pound female bout might be the most anticipated rematch in women’s MMA history. Much of the circumstances that many believe factored in the outcome of the first bout are no longer present in the second.

Jedrzejczyk appeared to have a very good weight cut for this UFC 223 bout, contrary to what she experienced the first time out. The Polish striker has also been a lot more mindful with her actions in the build up for the rematch, not investing much energy in getting under Namajunas’ skin.

These factors along with others have made this second fight a lot more interesting than the first fight. The betting odd reflect how split the public is for this female title fight. Fans still remember Jedrzejczyk’s dominant regime, but they can’t also forget what transpired at UFC 217.

Below is how the pros see the Namajunas-Jedrzejczyk rematch going:

Michael Chiesa: I’m not one of the people that thought Joanna was going to steamroll Rose. Rose is a hell of a fighter and I know that Joanna had some problems with her weight cut, and as somebody that cuts a lot of weight, I know how that can be like, so we’ll see if a better version of Joanna ‘Champion’ comes out, but I expect nothing shy from an exciting fight and I think Rose can come out the victor.

Paul Felder: I haven’t seen Rose train, but I was in the training room with Joanna the other day and I’ve seen how energetic she is and how close to weight she already is. So any of those issues that might have been part of her problem in the past, they do not seem to be a problem for her now. I really like both of these women, but I do think she’s going to be capable of getting her belt back. I think Joanna is going this pull it off. If she was hungry before, she seems even more determined now and it’s a pretty awesome thing to be around.

I don’t know if it’ll go the distance, but I do think at least it’s going to get into those championship rounds. I think both girls are so good and so technical everywhere that I think we’re going to see a better and much longer fight. I think we’ll see a much more back-and-forth battle this time and I think it’s going to be close, man. I think it’s going to be a good scrap, I really do. It could end up being the best women championship fights that I’ve seen.

Anthony Pettis: That’s the fight I want to see, those girls throw down so I’ll be watching. I get to watch this fight so I’m excited. I’m not not staying neutral, I just don’t have any prediction. Rose caught her, I think Joanna is motivated, but Rose is a gangster, she’s good, so we’ll see. I don’t think this will be like the first fight, I think they’ll have 25 minutes, so it’s going to be a good time.

Mike Brown: In a short fight, you can’t take a lot out of that, right? And the best fighter doesn’t always win; it happens time and time again. Anyone can get hurt with a big shot or get caught early, but in a longer fight that’s truly when you see who’s the superior fighter. Anyone could get a one-minute win over anyone under the right circumstances. But over the course of five rounds, you’re going to see who the superior fighter is and I think we’ll see that Saturday night. I think she’s got superior wrestling and superior striking skills to Rose, and her conditioning is top notch and maybe the best in the weight class. I think she’ll start strong and finish even stronger.

Felice Herrig: It’s hard to make predictions because in this sport anything can happen, but the way I see it is that Joanna was a very good champion, a very dominant champion, and I think that she’s going to comeback stronger than ever. Rose is young, and she’s always evolving, so I guess it’s a matter of who can break who.

Ilir Latifi: I think that’s going to be the Fight of the Night and we’ll see a real battle. I think we’re going to see five rounds of war, but it is MMA so anything can happen. Joanna is back, she’s focused, she’s hungry and she took the last loss well and sharpened up everything, including her focus. Rose is hungry, but she’s calm, mentally strong, she’s coming from that victory, so we’ll definitely see two very focused and hungry fighters.

It’s hard to say, but I think Joanna is going to come out with the victory.