Rose Namajunas

Two-time UFC champion Rose Namajunas makes her highly anticipated return this weekend after a year-and-a-half hiatus, which followed a controversial and underwhelming performance against her former rival, Carla Esparza.

Many questions have arisen regarding Rose’s physical and mental state since that fight. However, her co-main event matchup against flyweight standout Manon Fiorot could swiftly dispel any doubts about her future in the sport.

In what’s most likely a title eliminator featuring two of the division’s top talents, fans can expect an exciting clash between two well-rounded fighters with distinct and contrasting styles.

Betting Odds

Likely because of her recent performance (or lack thereof), “Thug” Rose enters this fight as a near 2-1 underdog.

  • Manan Fiorot: -205 (BetUS)
  • Rose Namajunas: +170 (BetUS)

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Fight Breakdown

As stated before, this match, on paper, showcases two of the best in the flyweight division who are remarkable specialist within their own styles. However, it’d be a disservice not to mention just how proficient they both are in every aspect of fighting. Rose, a seasoned and extremely proficient jiu-jitsu specialist, has shown exponential growth in her striking throughout her career, due largely in part to the tutelage of world-renowned coach Trevor Whitman. Inversely, Fiorot has demonstrated insane striking prowess with her kickboxing background while maintaining a keen ability to keep the fight on the feet. As well as this, she’s extremely disciplined in initiating scrambles once she’s put on her back, making her an extremely difficult and tiring opponent to deal with from a grappling standpoint.

A notable factor that oddsmakers most likely have taken into account going into this bout is that this is one of the few fights where Rose is giving up a size advantage. Fiorot comes into this bout with a 2-inch height advantage and an equal reach to Rose, which could be significant, given the ranged nature of Fiorot’s striking style. If Rose fights even remotely similar to her fight with Esparza, that being an extremely conserved approach that was likely contingent on peppered counters, she can expect to get picked apart with an assortment of kicks, mixed to the legs and body.

In saying that, Rose’s path to victory in this fight relies on her ability to put pressure on Fiorot and back her against the cage. Now, this is easier said than done, of course. Fiorot appears to be a master of controlling distance in a fight, showcasing exceptional footwork and an aptitude for making her opponents over-extend. There do come times, however, when she gets too aggressive in her counters and combinations, which have led to some unfavorable clinch exchanges and unnecessary shots taken during her fights.

All in all, if Rose can close the distance, this fight is most likely going to be decided within the clinch, which makes this a tricky bout to predict. Fiorot is extremely dangerous if she finds a Thai clinch, often unleashing a dangerous flurry of elbows and knees before her opponents can properly react. On the other hand, Rose has maintained excellent clinch control, particularly when pinning her opponents to the fence or pummeling back and forth to secure a body lock or single-leg takedown. Although Fiorot could likely land more significant damage from inside the clinch, I think she’ll be looking to stay as far as possible from it, so as to not get taken down or gas out to Rose’s pressure.

Prediction and Betting Guide

All in all, I think this fight should be a pick ’em in spite of Rose’s last performance. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, it’s a classic striker vs. grappler matchup, just this time under the skillset of modern MMA fighters. One thing that I don’t see, is this fight ending with a finish. Both women are extremely difficult to put away and fight fairly conserved, non-aggressive styles; only ever jumping on finishes when their opponents are visibly hurt or exhausted.

If I’m trying to make money, I’d go with Rose, however. Her last performance was a horrible exception to an otherwise awe-inspiring career that’s given us some of the best performances in WMMA, and at +170 it’d be unfair to lose faith in a future hall-of-fame fighter over one poor performance. I still wouldn’t count Fiorot out, however. She’s an extremely capable fighter with much more to fight for at this point, making her inherently dangerous for someone with a name as big as “Thug” Rose.

Pick: Fight to go the Distance (-175) or Rose to win via Decision (+330) or Rose Moneyline (+175)

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