Rose Namajunas opens up
On Saturday night, UFC women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili will look to make the first successful defense of her 115-pound title, as she’s set to take on former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event of UFC 248 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It seems, however, as if Weili could have easily have found herself facing off against another former champion this weekend. Speaking on a recent edition of the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast, Rose Namajunas revealed that she had been offered the shot against Weili, though she ultimately turned it down.
After winning the title in stunning fashion by finishing Jedrzejczyk in 2017, Namajunas went on to defend it just once, scoring a decision victory over the Polish striker in a rematch the following year.
Last year, however, Namajunas was brutally finished via slam by Jessica Andrade, the female who Weili stopped to claim the strap, losing the title and leaving her fighting future unclear in the process.
After such a devastating loss, “Thug” Rose admitted that she simply wasn’t ready to jump back into a title shot against the newly crowned champion.
“I was even offered Weili at the time, but I just – at the time I was still dealing with a lot of my own (things), just getting my head right, and I hired a mental coach that’s helping me do a lot of different things,” Namajunas said. “And so there was a lot of work that needed to be done.
“I wasn’t ready for that just yet. I didn’t even really know if I wanted to fight at that time anymore, just because I wanted to make sure that this is something that I wanted to do and I wasn’t just like, ‘Let’s have another fight just because I’m good at it.’”
Speaking specifically on the loss to Andrade itself, Namajunas described it as one of the “harder” things she’s had to deal with throughout her fighting career.
“It was definitely one of my harder losses that I’ve dealt with,” Namajunas said. “I think the thing is, I knew exactly – it was easier in the sense that I knew exactly all of the things that I did wrong. The harder part is taking responsibility for myself, and yeah, maybe situations around me that I couldn’t control could have been better. But I could have taken control over a lot more things in my life. So ultimately, taking that responsibility is the hardest part out of everything.”
Although she wasn’t prepared to take on Weili on Saturday night, Namajunas does appear to be in better spirits, as she’s scheduled to make her return to action next month at UFC 249 in Brooklyn and oddly enough, that return will take place against Andrade.
And should she exact her revenge against the Brazilian, it’s likely she’ll find herself once again fighting for the title anyway.
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.