Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade is a must-see and the Alexander Volkanovski-Jose Aldo fight holds major significance.
UFC 237 takes place later tonight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, continuing the worldwide expansion of the brand.
Even without the likes of Daniel Cormier, Jon Jones, or Brock Lesnar, the card still holds major significance.
The main event, featuring women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas battling a powerhouse in Jessica Andrade, offers a fascinating clash of styles. UFC 237 also includes a featherweight fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Jose Aldo that is important for both fighters as well as the entire featherweight division.
The legendary Anderson Silva is back with a fight against Jared Cannonier. Silva made news earlier this week with a public request to UFC president Dana White for a fight against Conor McGregor. A win by the 44-year-old Anderson would create more questions than answers regarding his future in UFC.
Here are the top three factors heading into UFC 237:
1. "Thug Rose" Looks to Elevate Her Ascension to Superstardom
Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade is a must-see fight, with Namajunas defending her strawweight championship against an opponent that has the potential to knock her out—and do so quickly—if she is caught lingering too long in the pocket.
The quality that resonates most about Namajunas is her poise under pressure, and this fight is a phenomenal example of that.
Namajunas has a wonderful, eccentric personality, along with incredible poise when dealing with adversity. Refusing to melt under the pressure of her initial fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk still serves as an example of her composure under duress.
She now defends her title in dangerous circumstances against a strong, powerful badass in Andrade who can win the title in front of her home crowd in Brazil, which may be Namajunas’ biggest challenge.
Namajunas was also on the bus that Conor McGregor attacked at the Barclays Center in April of 2018 leading up to UFC 223, and she has been very upfront about the mental anguish that event had on her. That moment even connects with her decision to defend the strawweight title in Brazil against Andrade, illustrating not only her strength but also courage.
There is no reason Namajunas cannot become of one the marquee stars in mixed martial arts, and a win will further cement her as one of UFC’s signature faces.
2. Alexander Volkanovski Looks to Make Statement Over Jose Aldo in Brazil
The Alexander Volkanovski-Jose Aldo fight holds major significance.
Although Volkanovski has defeated plenty of legitimate opponents, Aldo is one of the greatest featherweights of all-time.
If Volkanovski wins, a title shot against UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway is imminent.
Aldo is only 32, there is little doubt that his absolute peak years are behind him. Yet he remains a dangerous opponent, and he has the homecourt advantage with the fight taking place in Brazil. The win would serve as a statement for Volkanovski.
But if Volkanovski loses, there is far less certainty in the featherweight division. Even with a win, it is extremely unlikely that Aldo will get another title shot against Holloway, who has already dismantled him twice in a strikingly similar fashion.
A win by Volkanovski adds clarity to the division, while a victory by Aldo brings confusion amidst the top contenders.
3. Anderson Silva Looks to Enhance His Legacy ... But Not With This Fight
Anderson Silva is back for 237 with a fight against Jared Cannonier.
A win for Cannonier would be career-defining, but he is not the story.
The legendary Silva also made news on Wednesday by asking for a fight with Conor McGregor, and the pressing question surrounding this fight is what will happens if Anderson wins in convincing fashion.
Everyone assumes that the 44-year-old Silva is on the back nine of his career, but he is coming off a great performance in his fight against Izzy Adesanya this past February.
If Anderson does win, what is his path from here?
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.
What: UFC 237
When: Saturday. Early prelims begin at 6:15 p.m.; main card scheduled to start at 10 p.m. (All times ET.)
Where: Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
TV: Pay-per-view broadcast. Early preliminary bouts on ESPN+, UFC Fight Pass (6:15-8 p.m.). Prelims on ESPN (8 p.m.).