Rose Namajunas may have changed the complexion of her upcoming fight with Weili Zhang.
Namajunas will look to become a two-time women’s strawweight champion when she challenges Zhang for her crown in their title fight at UFC 261 which takes place April 24 in Jacksonville, Florida.
It’s a fight that sells itself just based on the credentials and skills of the fighters alone as it is one of the most highly-anticipated women’s fights in recent history.
However, there is now some controversy involved as Namajunas decided to inject some politics in the buildup to the contest.
Namajunas: Zhang Is Red
In a recent interview, Namajunas — whose parents were Lithuanian immigrants from the Soviet Union — spoke of what Zhang represents to her.
“You know, the animosity and things like that, those can be very motivating factors in short moments,” Namajunas said (via @FullContactMTWF). “But in all actuality, going into the fight, maybe there was certain rivalries and things like that, but I always kept myself in control. I never really hated the person and I don’t hate Weili or anything like that. There’s nothing, but I do feel as though I have a lot to fight for in this fight and what she represents.
“I was just kind of reminding myself of my background and everywhere that I come from and my family and everything like that, and I kind of wanted to educate my training partner [on] the Lithuanian struggle and just the history of it all, so we watched ‘The Other Dream Team’ just to kind of get an overall sentiment of what we fight for. Just after watching that, it was just a huge reminder of like, yeah, it’s better dead than red, you know? I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Weili is red. That’s what she represents. It’s nothing personal against her, but that’s a huge motivating factor of why I fight, and I fight for freedom.
“I’ve got the Christ consciousness, I’ve got Lithuanian blood, and I’ve got the American dream. And all of those things I’m taking with me into the fight.”
— Borrachinha Depot (@FullContactMTWF) April 11, 2021
Namajunas, of course, is referring to Zhang being from a communist country in China while the term “better dead than red” was one commonly used during the Cold War era.
Given that Zhang hasn’t publicly advocated for communism nor has she said anything but cordial things to Namajunas, these comments definitely seem a bit unnecessary.
Then again, everyone has their own sources of motivation.