Rose Namajunas is never one to shy away from tough challenges.
So when the UFC strawweight champion was asked by the company to go to Brazil and fight the always-tough Jessica Andrade (19-6) in front of the latter's hometown fans in Rio de Janeiro, she didn't hesitate.
Denver's Namajunas (8-3) defends her 115-pound belt against Andrade on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 237 at Jeunesse Arena, and she is looking forward to the unique challenge the opportunity provides.
"I know it's tough for foreigners to fight in Brazil, and that's kind of why I want to do this," said Namajunas, who has won three consecutive bouts. "The fans there are passionate for their fighters, and fighting there is one to check off the bucket list."
She has reason to be confident. Namajunas uses relentless pressure and high-volume output to wear down opponents before going in for the kill, an approach that made her a world champion. Five of her eight victories came by submission, and another was a technical knockout.
Andrade, meanwhile, has proven to be one of the UFC's scrappiest competitors. Generously listed at 5-foot-2, she debuted in the UFC in 2013 when bantamweight (135 pounds) was the UFC's only women's weight class, and went 5-3 against significantly larger competition.
When 115 was instituted, Andrade effortlessly adapted, amassing a 6-1 record since making the jump in 2016. Her only loss in the span was to then-champion Jonna Jedrzejczyk, whom Namajunas knocked out to claim the belt at UFC 217.
UFC 237 also features a pair of legendary longtime Brazilian champions. Former middleweight champion Anderson Silva (34-9, 1 no-contest), who now resides in Palos Verdes, Calif., takes on Jared Cannonier (11-4) of Anchorage, Alaska, in the co-feature bout; and former featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo (28-4) of Manaus, Brazil, takes on rising Australian Alexander Volkanovski (19-1).
--Field Level Media