The Rise and Fall of Rose Namajunas

Published on 23 March 2024 at 08:00

Thug Rose has shown to be an incredible role model in Women's MMA, from downfalls to championship wins. Namajunas is a two-time UFC Women's Strawweight Champion, successfully defending the belt once with both reigns as the Queen of the 115-pound division. Here is an inside look of the career of a fan-favourite MMA fighter.


Namajunas began her career at Invicta Fight Championships (Invicta FC) at the beginning of January 2013. After three fights in her MMA debut year, the Milwaukee-born fighter earned two submission victories, one ended in 12 seconds with an Armbar in the first round, and a first career loss by unanimous decision. 

The American mixed martial artist would be acquired from Dana White on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 20 where one Strawweight female fighter would walk out as the inaugural UFC Strawweight Champion in the Finale. Namajunas would go down as a huge submission threat as she advanced all the way to the finale, submitting every opponent she faced. Unfortunately, Namajunas would not be victorious as she lost by third-round submission to Carla Esparza, but she did earn a contract into the UFC.


After a disappointing title loss, the submission artist would look to be at the top of the rankings, fighting twice a year until a prestigious moment of her career. Namajunas would earn two wins in the space of two months, defeating Angela Hill by first-round submission at UFC 192 and Paige VanZant by fifth-round submission at UFC Las Vegas. 

Thug Rose's next two fights would both be decided by the judges in 2016, defeating Tecla Torres by unanimous decision at UFC Tampa but would lose a split decision to Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 201 which would only knock her down slightly in the Strawweight rankings.

Namajunas would earn a title shot in early November after earning her sixth submission win against Michelle Waterson-Gomez at UFC Kansas City, stopping The Karate Hottie in the second round. The title challenger would face undefeated Polish fighter, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, at UFC 217 which would not only be Namajunas' second UFC title opportunity but would be her toughest test yet.

In shocking fashion, Wisconsin's underdog fighter defeated Jedrzejczyk by first-round TKO, the first knockout win of her MMA career, becoming the UFC Strawweight Champion and proving who was the real deal. Five months later, Namajunas would defend her undisputed title in a rematch against The Boogeywoman, earning an unanimous decision victory to retain her belt.


Namajunas would not defend her title until a year later as she faced an experienced Brazilian fighter, Jessica Andrade, in the main event of UFC 237. Despite knocking down Andrade, it would be the title challenger that would prevail as she won in unique style with a slam knockout.

The Milwaukee fighter did not back down to facing Andrade in a rematch, despite the fact that the Brazilian was no longer champion after losing the Strawweight belt to Zhang Weili at UFC China. It was not bitter sweet, but Namajunas did get revenge with a spit decision win over Andrade at UFC 251 which would put her back in title contention. 


UFC 261 saw crowds properly return for the first time after the COVID-19 pandemic as Namajunas would challenge Zhang Weili for undisputed gold. The Chinese Champion previously fought Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248, winning by split decision in what may have been the greatest fight in Women's MMA history. In remarkable fashion, Namajunas knocked out Weili with an extraordinary head kick in the first round to win the fight and become a two-time champion.

Once again, Thug Rose's first title defence would be a rematch as she faced Magnum at UFC 268 in the Co-Main Event. In an incredibly close fight, Namajunas would prevail and win by split decision which would continue her title reign until the next year.


Namajunas next fought at UFC 274 where she faced a familiar foe in the Co-Main Event, Carla Esparza. This would be Esparza's first title fight since March 2015 when she lost the UFC Strawweight Championship to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. With a chance to avenge a loss, the champion would fail that objective as she would lose by split decision in a dull action-packed fight.

The two-time former champion would not fight again until in September 2023 when she faced Manon Fiorot in enemy territory of France. Fiorot is a top contender in the UFC Women's Flyweight division, so this would be a great opportunity for Namajunas to enter the rankings in the weight class above as this would be her first Flyweight bout.

Namajunas would not have a lot of luck in the fight as despite continuing the fight with a broken finger, she would lose by unanimous decision, making it her second consecutive loss and her sixth defeat of her career.


Thug Rose is set to fight #8 Flyweight contender, Amanda Ribas, at UFC Vegas 89 this weekend as she has a second opportunity to enter the Flyweight rankings. Ribas won her last fight by third-round TKO so it will still be a challenging test for Namajunas. There is curiosity whether Namajunas may retire if the Milwaukee fighter loses as she will not have won a fight since November 2021.


Are you looking forward to watching Rose Namajunas at UFC Vegas 89? Will Thug Rose get redemption this weekend?


Featured Images: Flickr -Arlindo Orlando,Arlindo Orlando Photo 2,Arlindo Orlando Photo 3,William Lucas Silva de Oliveira, Arlindo Orlando Photo 4

Written by Charlie Oxtoby


Instagram: charlie_oxtoby

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Twitter: Charlie_Oxtoby1

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