UFC Fight Night 80 was absolutely one for the ages. First, there was a curtain raiser between Lightweights Michael Chiesa and Jim Miller. The bloody and frantic battle was decided in the second round with Chiesa winning by rear-naked choke. But that was nothing compared to the main event between Paige VanZant and Thug Rose Namajunas. The Women’s Strawweight contest was supposed to be fought between Joanne Calderwood and VanZant, however, Calderwood was forced to withdraw.
And we are glad, in a way, that she did, because the battle that ensued was phenomenal. VanZant and Namajunas are two very different fighters. Namajunas is an all-around martial artist, holding a Black belt in Taekwondo, a Black belt in Karate and a Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. VanZant is more of a straight out fighter, however, she does hold a blue belt in BJJ, herself.
Her style includes ground-and-pound, dirty boxing, and a wide variety of clinch striking. While standing, she will often move the fight toward the fence and utilize knees, elbows, forearms, punches, and throws. Then there is the difference in appearance and demeanor. Namajunas opts for a shaved head and looks like she will murder anyone who stands in her way. Vanzant, on the other hand, mixes it up with smiles and more personality.
She is, after all, a dancer as well! So the stage was set for fireworks. The crowd knew that strikes would be thrown, but just how bloody the affair would get was hardly predictable. The five-round bout was expected to be won by VanZant, but it was Namajunas who gained early dominance with a superb takedown as well as landing huge elbow that opened up VanZant’s cheek. More strikes to the American’s face above the eye saw her face covered in blood before long. Each time around would finish, there would be towels waiting to clean her off.
Eventually, in the fifth, a rear-naked choke secured the Performance of the Night-winning victory for Namajunas, against the odds. The fight propelled the Lithuanian who resides in the states into the limelight for future consideration. She is currently, of course, the UFC Strawweight Champion and #15-ranked pound for pound fighter in the UFC. Check out the amazing fight highlights on the player below.