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‘If They Want to Give Me That, I’ll Take It’


Now that she’s back on a winning track, Rose
Namajunas is ready to make moves in the
Ultimate Fighting Championship’s flyweight division.

The ex-strawweight champion earned her first 125-pound victory on
Saturday night, as she took a unanimous decision triumph over
Ribas in the UFC
on ESPN 53 headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The bout was
competitive for the duration, but Namajunas enjoyed more control
time and appeared the land more strikes of consequence throughout.
Perhaps just as important was the fact that “Thug” Rose is getting
more comfortable in her new weight class.

“I felt actually pretty good,” Namajunas said at Saturday’s
post-fight press conference. “There was some things to work on. I
wasn’t as quick, as snappy, as I wanted to be. My arms are a little
bigger. I also could feel my strength was great. I know everybody
thinks I’m small or weak or something like that, so it’s just good
to get better at the grappling aspect of things and just keep all
of my skills at a high level. No weakness anywhere.

“… I think I had more top position,” Namajunas added. “I know she
got me with one of the head tosses. I think I just landed more
power shots … I think my significant strikes were more significant,
if that makes any sense. I just think I had more impact and I think
I caused more damage to her face, for sure. I feel like I had three
of the rounds.”

It was an encouraging performance for Namajunas after dropping a
unanimous decision to Manon
Fiorot in her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Night 226 this past
September. While Namajunas is aware that next weekend’s showdown
between Fiorot and Erin
Blanchfield comes with No. 1 contender implications, she also
seems to be well aware that her name value might give her some
advantages over the rest of the division. “If they wanted to give
me a title shot, I’m more than happy to do that,” Namajunas said.
“I lost to Manon
Fiorot and she’s fighting Erin
Blanchfield and she was calling for a title shot. I know how
things work, and I know that you’ve got to earn things. Had things
gone a little bit different of a way, I probably would have been in
a title shot after Manon. It is what it is.

“… I think it is kind of cool to just work your way up and do it
that way. Becoming the champ this way would be way more impressive
in my opinion, but at the same time, if they want to give me that,
I’ll take it.”

If Namajunas is going to work her way through the division,
Barber stands out as an intriguing option as her next opponent.
Barber is currently on a six-fight winning streak in UFC
competition and is coming off a victory over former title
challenger Katlyn
Cerminara at UFC 299.

“I think she’s a savage. She’s a big girl. She’s strong. She’s just
like a bully in there,” Namajunas said of Barber. “I knew her when
she was really young. She’s a lot different now. She used to call
me out back when she was younger. I think it’s kind of funny. She’s
really tough. That would definitely motivate me and get me going
every day because I know she throws with really bad intentions. But
anybody else is cool too. Erin
Blanchfield, Manon, whoever — title. Yeah, don’t matter.”

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