It’s just one of those days. You know that phrase, right? Everything can do right for months, and then…the day comes, and it’s just one of those days.
Unfortunately for MMA fighters, if ‘one of those days’ happens, you can get knocked out, submitted, or what happened to Rose Namajunas: you lose your UFC strawweight title.
At UFC 274, Namajunas lost her title to Carla Esparza in a rematch eight years in the making. Unfortunately, the fight was very lackluster, and the fight was extremely close. In the end, Esparza got her title back via split decision.
Rose stuck to the game plan.
In an interview with the MMA Hour, Namajunas’ coach and partner Pat Barry talked about the fight at UFC 274 and how proud he was that ‘Thug’ Rose stuck to the game plan.
“Rose stuck to a game plan. We had a strategy, and she stuck to it for the first time ever. For the first time ever she stuck to the game plan and didn’t stray away,” Barry said. “She didn’t become undisciplined. She stuck to it. It just so happens that Carla stuck to her game plan, too, and neither one of them broke. That’s all we were waiting for.”
Namajunas’ sticking to her game plan caused the crowd to boo and her coaching staff to take a lot of criticism. However, Barry is okay with it because of all of the scenarios that could have happened.
“Every time they click over to Carla’s corner in between rounds, you can hear [Colin] Oyama saying, ‘She’s about to do that thing that she always does. The crowd’s booing, she’s getting frustrated, she’s gonna do that thing, and when she does it, you know exactly what to do.’ This was the scenario. How many times have you seen fighters come out that are just amazing at everything they do, and then they wind up in some type of silly scenario that maybe they shouldn’t be in,” Barry said. “Maybe they shouldn’t be in. Rose has been one for creating masterpieces almost every time she gets in there. … That’s the ‘Thug Rose’ everybody is in love with. Everybody loves [it]. That’s what people show up for. People show up to see ‘Thug Rose’ do something amazing because every time she gets in there – nine out of 10 times – it’s something amazing.”
One of those days
At the end of the day, it was just one of those days, according to Barry.
“Just every once in a while, a fight lands on one of those days. A fight lands on one of those days where there can be explanations, there can be reasoning for things. It’s just once in a while, you just have one of those days. And it just so happens that this was one of those days.”
Pat Barry explains to @arielhelwani what went wrong for Rose Namajunas at UFC 274:
“Rose stuck to a gameplan. We had a strategy and she stuck to it, for the first time ever… Carla [Esparza] stuck to her gameplan too and neither one of them broke."
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) May 11, 2022
Despite having fought 15 times in mixed martial arts (MMA) at this point in time, Barry (8-7), 42, has never shied away from criticism. Taking on the role of head coach in 2022, he has a difficult time listening to negative feedback, so he’s learning how to block out whatever he doesn’t want to hear.
“If you make mistakes at this level, the consequences are pretty heavy. The consequences are pretty heavy, man,” Barry said. “So, we went into this fight with a strategy. We have Carla memorized, man. We know everything that she’s going to do before she does it. We know what it looks like, we know when to avoid, when to attack. This is a strategic, perfect gameplan. And just so everyone knows, we went in there for the win. The plan was to win the fight. The plan was to do this thing in particular, and if you do this thing, people are going to start booing — they are going to start booing — but that’s only because they don’t know what’s going on. And when they do start booing, Carla is going to open up — and when she does, bam, there it is. That’s the game.
“In the fight, [Namajunas] did everything perfect, bro. Perfect,” he continued. “I love the UFC and I’ve loved everything that UFC does for everyone, and I love it, I love the organization. But, I will say, in the fight, there’s three moments — but there’s two in particular — where bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, here it comes, this is the time, and when Rose went to throw the punch, her foot slipped. And I saw that. I saw it. I saw her foot slide. And when it did, I know my head went crazy…. And when the opportunity for that one thing that we trained for came again and she went — foot slipped a second time.
“I love UFC and everything they do, but this is, out of all the fights I’ve ever had, even back in my career, this is the slipperiest canvas you can ever fight on,” Barry added. “Which, at that moment, when she had the opening for the kill, the second time, when she went for it and that foot slipped, I had a moment of clarity, man. I don’t know. Just all of a sudden I went from this crazy [demeanor] to completely just calm. Apparently, the world is trying to make this very difficult for you. Apparently, something is going on. Because of course Rose and her spirituality, and we look at things so I have to think a certain way because she thinks a certain way — something is trying to stop you from winning this fight.”
“It’s fine,” Barry said of the critique. “I’m fine with [what] the world thinks of me, no matter what. Like, no matter what it’s my fault, right? ‘Pat, you shouldn’t be talking. You shouldn’t be nothing.’ I’m the closest person to her. I know what I’m looking at more than anyone else. I know what I’m looking at when I see — I know what I see when she’s in there, more than anybody. More than more than anybody, man. I’m [here] 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Like, I know what it is that I’m looking at. I know what it is that I feel. I know pretty much where Rose is at any point in time, based on her facial expression. People are going to say that, but those are the same people that I have to ask, like, what if Rose would’ve jumped in the air and started doing spin kicks and gotten taken down and crucifixed and elbowed in the face. Now what?
“That’s why what the world says about Pat doesn’t matter to Pat,” he concluded. “It doesn’t matter to Rose and that’s why it doesn’t matter to Pat. If it mattered to her, if it bothered her, what the world said, then that would probably be a thing. But, it doesn’t.” – h/t MMA Fighting
Namajunas is now 0-2 against Esparza, and a trilogy will not happen anytime soon.