April 23, 2016

UFC on FOX 19: Rose Namajunas Re-Blossoms As A Star

By Raphael Garcia

UFC on Fox 19 featured an important bout for shining light on the strawweight division. Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres was meant to help build the winner into a potential contender for the strap at some point in 2016. With Namajunas coming out the victor, not only did she earn the right to consider herself a top contender, but she showed her continued growth into a star that the promotion can count on to deliver.

With this win on Saturday, Namajunas avenged a 2013 defeat to Torres and did so at a time in which the 115-pound division is looking for a competitor to become an attention-grabber. Current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk faces a tough test in Claudia Gadelha at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale in July, and she’s slowly becoming a fan favorite. Paige VanZant, whom Namajunas defeated to kick off this run, is flourishing on this season of Dancing with the Stars and each step closer to victory pulls her further and further from competition in the Octagon. With all those circumstances in mind, Namajunas is stepping into the spotlight at just the right time. Or she will once she decides it’s time to come back to fighting.

“Finally I was able to go in there and let go and just have fun, fall on my butt and laugh at myself. I’ve been through so much for this fight that I’m not gonna worry about it anymore. I’m done crying, I’m done not sleeping at night,” Namajunas said during the post-fight press conference. “Right now I do want a little bit of a break and enjoy the fight world as a fan just for a second. I’ll be fired up and ready to get back in there and improve on my fighting eventually. Right now it’s about having fun just for a little bit.”

At just 23 years of age, Namajunas continues to show a level a maturity that far eclipses her use of the nickname “Thug.” After a one-sided defeat to Carla Esparza to close out season 20 of the Ultimate Fighter, she retooled herself into a competitor that is more dangerous than many believed. The brutal beating she put on VanZant at UFC Fight Night 80 was a restart of sorts for the young fighter who was thrust onto center stage during her stint on the reality series. Since that moment she has continued to reveal that she’s worthy of attention and promotion.

One of the more compelling moments of Namajunas’ career came when she decided to respond to Ronda Rousey’s 2015 “Do Nothing Bitch” comments. Instead of cheering her fellow UFC athlete on, Namajunas questioned whether it was correct to judge others based on what they do. While the response wasn’t appreciated by all, that momentary glimpse of Namajunas showed that she has the potential to be another personality capable of being outspoken about topics that go beyond punching opponents in the cage.

As it often occurs, Namajunas didn’t get the best type of exposure from her time on The Ultimate Fighter. However, what she has successfully done is grow in a way that a young fighter such as herself needs to establish a long term career in mixed martial arts. It will be interesting to see how the UFC books her in her next bout, and the way she adjusts to what should be more acclaim and expectations for her next performances.

UFC on Fox 19
Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres: Rose Namajunas def. Tecia Torres via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

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UFC on Fox 19: Teixeira vs. Evans (formerly UFC on Fox 19: Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson) takes place on April 16, 2016 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC on Fox 19 was.




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