UFC’s Fight Island failed to take on the Cannon Films-esque connotation UFC president Dana White’s announcement of the concept humorously conjured. But the company’s first Fight Island card from Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, Saturday’s UFC 251, succeeded in delivering a worthy rematch between former UFC strawweight champions Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas.
Unlike their first clash at UFC 247 last year, which ended abruptly when Andrade knocked out Namajunas with a vicious slam, Andrade-Namajunas 2 went the distance in thrilling fashion, ending with a split decision win for Namajunas.
The opening moments of Saturday’s fight were very similar to those of their first clash, with Namajunas utilizing her reach advantage to pepper Andrade with strikes. But Andrade partially fended off that attack with increased head movement and evasiveness.
Andrade stepped up her attack in the third round, bloodying Namajunas’ nose and causing swelling under her left eye. It didn’t prove to be enough to garner the win, but it left an impression on Namajunas.
“She really unloaded on me a couple times, obviously. But I stayed strong,” Namajunas said in her post-fight interview.
The competitiveness of the fight and the performances of both Andrade and Namajunas wasn’t lost on the UFC either. The duo earned UFC 251’s “Fight of the Night” bonus, dropping an extra $50,000 in each woman’s pocket.
WIth their record against each other sitting at 1-1, we can only hope that a climactic rubber match is in the cards down the line.