Rose Namajunas is one the most loved fighter on the UFC roster. The former strawweight champion hasn’t fought since May of 2019 and her knock-out loss to Jessica Andrade at UFC 237 in Brazil.
Namajunas is making her long-awaited return to action at UFC 251 on July 11 as she faces Andrade in a rematch.
Although she is looking forward to her rematch against Andrade, it is documented that Namajunas has struggled with her time as champion following her two wins against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
“I don’t know why, but ever since I turned 26, I think I just dealt with … becoming an adult was kind of difficult,” Namajunas told ESPN. “Losing my title and all of that sad sh*t, all of that ungratefulness and bitterness, I just went through a lot of different stages, and I just kind grew to understand some things. Everything is temporary, so you just kind of have to live in the moment and enjoy yourself as much as possible.”
“… I don’t miss the way that I felt as a champion. But I do miss having that belt, though. When you get up and it’s your turn to dance but you ain’t ready, you ain’t got your moves right, everybody is looking at you — that’s kind of what it felt like. You feel like everyone is staring at you. That’s kind of like how it felt.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Namajunas has lost family members to the virus and this tragedy impacted her a lot. However, it helped her regain some of her lost passion for fighting.
“I love this sport,” she said. “There’s always things to gripe and complain about, but this is what I love to do, man. I’m a martial artist. I’m just pretty much hitting my prime right now, and it seems like everything, all of a sudden, is coming together.
“It seemed like everything was falling apart. Sometimes, things have to crumble down before you have to put them back together again.”
A win against Andrade at UFC 251 could put Namajunas back on a path to the title down the line. She would have to face the current champion Weili Zhang and Namajunas seems excited about this potential bout.
“I’d love to fight her one day,” Namajunas added. “She’s a true martial artist and like, she’s the sh*t.”