Rose Namajunas defends her strawweight title against arguably her toughest challenger, hard-hitting contender Jessica Andrade on Saturday evening at UFC 237 in the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Elsewhere on the main card, featherweight GOAT Jose Aldo makes his case for one final title shot when he looks to keep things rolling against surging contender Alexander Volkanovski. It’s a Brazilian showcase card with a number of great bets for fans of UFC betting, so let’s get to it.
Namajunas came into the UFC off of Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” where she made it all the way to the finals before losing her title fight against Carla Esparza. At the time, she was still incredibly raw, relying primarily on her kinetic grappling style to pick up wins.
After that loss though, Namajunas started coming into her own, developing as a striker to the point where she twice out-struck the best strawweight of all time, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Though still capable of grappling with the best of them, Namajunas now relies primarily on an out-fighting based striking style, picking opponents apart with volume at range.
Problems for her come when an opponent is able to crowd her space, forcing Namajunas onto the back foot and away from her primary game plan, especially if they can force her to clinch where Namajunas is not as physically imposing as many of her contemporaries.
That lines up well for Jessica Andrade, whose entire style is built around being a physically imposing bulldozer of a human being. Andrade wants to march forward behind heavy haymakers, either connecting with a fight-ending punch or closing the distance where she can work opponents over with suffocating power-grappling.
This is backed up by her incredible cardio, which enables her to keep coming forward, relentlessly. Andrade’s biggest weakness is the same as all bulls though, if her opponent can play matador well enough, Andrade is liable to get picked apart for the duration of the bout.
There’s only one major question at play in this fight and it’s this: Is Andrade able to corner Namajunas? Stylistically, this fight should play heavily into Andrade’s hands, but Namajunas knows what Andrade wants to do and Andrade still lacks the pressuring footwork that would make this fight outcome inevitable.
That being said, what Andrade excels at is exactly what Namajunas has struggled with in the past, and given Namajunas’ tendency to slow down and Andrade’s refusal to ever get tired, Namajunas may be fighting an insurmountable tide here.
BetHard currently has Andrade listed at 4/5 (a rare challenger favorite line) with the comeback on Rose at even money, and while seeing a champion at plus money is sure to be enticing, it’s not the right bet in this situation.
Barring a major leap in improvement from Namajunas in her ability to handle pressure and the clinch, Andrade is likely to overwhelm the champion and a bet on her at 4/5 is worthwhile.
If you are inclined to bet Namajunas though, the Namajunas by Decision prop is 3/1, and that’s a much better value line, considering Andrade suffered through an unbelievable shellacking at the hands of Joanna Jedrzejczyk and made it to the final bell.
When Aldo first came up, he was a devastating striker with elite takedown defense but as he advanced as a fighter, Aldo began relying much more on his defensive craft to win fights (he’s the best defensive fighter of all time, and it’s not particularly close), using a limited offensive arsenal and just outclassing opponents on the feet.
After Max Holloway broke through that defensive wall with volume and pace and won the belt from him though, Aldo has since decided to return to his younger days, overwhelming his last two opponents with brutal offensive firepower.
It’s a calculated shift and one that may serve him well against Volkanovski, a very talented fighter but still not a finished product. Defensively, he is very narrow, but he makes up for it with solid offense, great physicality and excellent pressure and pace. Aldo though, will present both the best fighter he’s ever faced, and the biggest stylistic hurdle.
888Sport currently has Jose Aldo as the favorite at 53/50 with the comeback on Volkanovski at 11/10, and while those odds kind of make sense, they are off. Volkanovski, while good, is not Holloway and is not nearly as well-positioned as Holloway was to thrive in exchanges with Aldo.
Were this a few years ago, this fight would not be up for debate, but now the question for all of Aldo’s fights will be: “How much does he have left in the tank?” For a three-round fight in his home country, the answer is “a lot.”
Aldo has more craft and should be able avoid getting pressured up against the fence where Volkanovski does his best work and at range, he will pick the still limited fighter apart, so I love a bet at 888Sport on Aldo at these odds.
There is not much that needs to be said here. Clay Guida is 1/6 at 888Sport and it should be 1/60. B.J. Penn’s refusal to retire is heartbreaking for many because the outcome of his fights is a foregone conclusion. Guida will win, so as high as the number is, this is still great parlay fodder. Pair him with any of the above bets for a little extra juice.
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