It’s a new year, so Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of MMA in 2017. Throughout the next few weeks, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
When UFC strawweight Rose Namajunas competed on the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2014, UFC President Dana White infamously described her as “the next Ronda Rousey.”
White’s boast may have been premature, but it’s possible Namajunas may finally be starting to live up to the lofty expectations of her boss. Namajunas has only lost once since coming up short in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter, and she achieved the pinnacle when she upset former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk with a stunning first-round knockout at UFC 217 last year.
Jędrzejczyk was a heavy favorite to break the aforementioned Rousey’s record of consecutive title defenses by a female fighter. But Namajunas had other plans, and only needed three minutes to outstrike the normally prolific striker Jedrzejczyk, capture gold and her first career knockout victory. This only adds to Namajunas’ impressive 2017, when considering who her foe was in the cage that night.
Namajunas’ victory over Jędrzejczyk came on the heels of wins over other tough and highly-touted fighters like Angela Hill, Tecia Torres, Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson. While Jędrzejczyk may receive a rematch with Namajunas this year and the opportunity to win back the UFC strawweight title, Namajunas’ impressive performance and victory on the UFC’s biggest stage in 2017 made her a no-brainer to be selected as the Combat Press Female Fighter of the Year.
Other finalists: Nicco Montaño, Ilima Lei-Macfarlane
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2017 MMA Award winners.