The co-main event of UFC on Fox 24 features a battle between two top contenders in the strawweight division as Rose Namajunas looks to get back on track with the well rounded Michelle Waterson. Both of these women are the elite in the division and both possess a tremendous amount of athleticism.
Rose Namajunas has a style all her own. She’s an aggressive fighter with the ability to thrive in chaos, yet it’s her fundamentals that have carried her far in her career. She uses great lateral movement with an in and out jab that causes opponents to either succumb to the snapping punch and attempt to push forward or slip the punch and counter back. Both instances is what Namajunas appears to want as she likes to play counter fighter as much as she enjoys playing aggressor.
When she’s at her most disciplined she doesn’t load up on her punches and frustrates the opposition with her rangy jab and variety of kicks. Her wrestling game has also improved immensely forcing her opponents to either stand and trade or taking them down herself. What she’ll want to do in this match is use her length against Waterson. If she does end up in the clinch, she has to let her elbows do the talking and time her knees just right. Waterson is a takedown threat and if Rose miscalculates her timing she can end up on her back. Jabbing to get her distance and waiting to throw her right hand as a counter should be her M.O. while on the feet.
On the other end of the equation we have Michelle Waterson who has established herself as a major strawweight threat. Her karate ability already makes me a fan, but it’s how she utilizes her skills that makes her so enjoyable to watch. It seems that Waterson has two modes of attack on the feet. In the orthodox position she has a mix of Muay Thai, kickboxing, and karate in her arsenal. In her southpaw stance she’s far more traditional in her approach, standing in a side stance and throwing powerful front leg side kicks following up with a straight right afterwards.
With Namajunas loving to use her jab, that southpaw stance is going to come in handy for Waterson. She has great timing on those side kicks and they’ll help her to both keep range and land good damage on her opponent. The funny thing is that if the two do tie up in a clinch or wrestling position, Waterson may have the advantage as she is w supremely underrated grappler. She’s submission hungry from top and bottom position but understands that while on the ground, position is key. Waterson should establish boxing combinations in her orthodox stance and, right when Namajunas feels comfortable, switch into southpaw stance to give her opponent a different look with her side kicking game.
It’s a toss up between these two women, but one thing is certain. As a traditional martial arts fan, I’m sure to get my money’s worth.
Who wins at UFC on Fox 24, Rose Namajunas or Michelle Waterson?