8 Reasons Why Rose Namajunas is a Great UFC Champion
I remember the exact moment that “Thug” Rose Namajunas became UFC champion. I was sitting in my tiny bedroom in my shoebox apartment in Brooklyn, watching UFC 217 curled up in a nest I’d made on my floor. I was drinking red wine during the card, which I had sitting next to me.
The fight happened so quickly and had so much intensity behind it, my nerves were wired. The first time Rose knocked Joanna down I was squealing and when she then quickly finished her with a beautiful left hook, I went wild. I got so emotional that I knocked over my glass of wine as I jumped in the air with excitement.
I had predicted that Rose would win and have been a fan of her for some time. I was so excited for her and to see the UFC gain such an incredibly humble, sweet, smart, and hardworking champion.
If you’re not already a fan of Thug Rose, here are eight reasons that you should join the club:
1. She’s Overcome So Much
Rose has had anything but an easy road: growing up, she faced living with a schizophrenic father, a broken home, having to make it on the rough streets of Milwaukee, and has overcome child abuse. “Every day I wake up and I’m (a) champion, so that’s just my mindset all of the time... I’m so much stronger from it and I’m going to continue to be stronger,” she said on a conference call to promote UFC 217 (the card she won the strawweight belt on).
2. She Has an Attitude of Gratitude
Her UFC 217 post-fight victory speech is probably one of the most famous in UFC history and for good reason. Instead of using this opportunity to rub her win in Joanna’s face, call someone out, or be braggadocious after so many doubted her skills, she instead took the path of humility.
Joe Rogan called her post-fight speech his favorite of all time and who am I to disagree? What’s not to love about Rose’s message of love and self-belief?
3. She’s an Advocate for Mental Health
Mental illness is incredibly stigmatized in our society, not to mention the fight game. However, Rose has been incredibly outspoken about the importance of mental health and wants to use her platform as UFC champion to promote positive self-esteem.
“There’s been a lot of trash-talking and things like that and people that aren’t being true to themselves or being honest,” Namajunas told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview. “I’m just sick of it. I’m sick of all the hate and anger and stuff like that going on...Martial arts is about honor and respect. It takes a lot of courage in that cage no matter who you are. I just want to try and send an example in that way and the rest of the world, too.”
Especially after Joanna called her “mentally unstable,” in a media conference before their fight at UFC 217, it’s incredible to see Rose take this as an opportunity to help others, rather than cave into the stigma of mental illness.
4. Her Epic Fight Finishing Ability
Namajunas is a very exciting fighter to watch, since she’s always looking for the finish. Of her 7 professional victories, 6 have come by way of stoppage (5 by submission, 1 by knockout). In true thug fashion, you can expect Rose to always be looking for a way to end the fight, rather than skating by on points.
5. Her Fearless Attitude
With this, Rose never fights with fear. She’s a fast starter who always comes out guns blazing, even if she appears to be patiently stalking her opponent. To this point, 3 of her 7 wins have came via first-round stoppage. You can see in the way she moves, strikes, and handles herself inside of the cage that she isn’t afraid to get into a war and will always keep moving forward, no matter what you throw her way.
6. Because She Defies Standards of Beauty
Sadly, many have decided to focus on Rose’s chosen hairstyle, rather than her fighting ability. Go to any comments section featuring Namajunas and you’re likely to see comments that liken her to a 12 year-old boy, which is not only sexist, but stupid.
Rose is an incredibly beautiful woman, but beyond that she chose to shave her head because it added to ability to train. “This shit’s in my way at practice, cut it off,” fiance and former UFC heavyweight Pat Berry told the media about her lack of hair.
Women shouldn’t be forced into strict boxes when it comes to physical appearance or beauty- the backlash she’s received as a result of her haircut illustrates exactly what is wrong with the way the MMA community treats and views women, often as sexual objects. Rose is incredibly gorgeous and the shameless approach she takes towards her appearance shows how confident she really is.
7. She’s Living Proof of the Power of Empowerment
Rose was truly tested in her title fight against Jedrzejczyk, as she tried every which way to mentally break her leading up to the bout, going as far as to touch her fist to Rose’s face in a staredown.
When asked about how she approached the fight afterwards, Namajunas said that most of her training was mindset-based, with the use of a mantra, “Confidence, composure, content, I’m a champion,” that she carried with her throughout the entire promotional build up, to maintain her focus. She credits her victory to not a simple matter of technique or power, but the confidence she took with her into the cage.
I don’t know about you, but I find that mental fortitude to be pretty damn inspirational.
8. Her Intense Focus
You won’t see Rose turn into the kind of champion who is living in the lap of luxury. She’s not out taking extravagant vacations, buying expensive cars, or using her belt as an accessory to get her into high places. Instead, she’s remaining true to her roots, living and training in Colorado, helping her teammates at the 303 Training Center, and growing tomatoes in her garden. Rose is not phased by the glitz and the glamour that often come with UFC gold and as illustrated by her low profile the last few months, isn’t interested in materialism or celebrity.
Seeing someone stick to what made them champ in the first place, rather than trying to use their belt to make a name for themselves, is very refreshing to see.