Right after her UFC 274 loss to Carla Esparza, Rose Namajunas spoke to the media stating she should’ve been the rightful winner. “Thug Rose” believed she “stuck to the strategy” which her fiancé and training partner Pat Barry also gave her credit for.
A few days removed from that night and seemingly having the time to think things over, Namajunas appeared on The MMA Hour on Wednesday to give a slightly different take on her performance.
“I didn’t feel like I won, but I definitely didn’t feel like Carla won and I definitely didn’t feel like I lost,” she said.
“It is kind of weird because usually when fights go the distance for me like throughout the fight I’m thinking about, ‘OK, what are the judges seeing?’ I don’t think I was really thinking about that in this fight.
“I was thinking about my goals of, I wanted Carla to know, one, I wasn’t going to do what her corner wanted me to do, because they kept wanting me to come out of my game plan, and then every time I’d step forward, they’d be like, ‘Oh, there’s her foot — OK, now she’s going to do the thing because she’s going to crack because everybody’s booing.’ That’s what basically [Esparza’s coach] said in the corner,” Namajunas explained.
For the 29-year-old ex-champion, not getting “flustered” by her opponent’s plan was a win.
“So I knew that they wanted me to get flustered by that, and I was like, ‘No, I’m not. I’m not,’” she said. “I’m staying solid and myself. Like, I’m not going to let you control me. I’m controlling myself.’
“So I guess I wasn’t really thinking about the judges. In my mind, I felt like I won the fight because of all that other stuff going on. It was more of like a psychological battle for me, as far as like, ‘No, I’m going to do what I want to do.’ But I get it.
“I was pretty solid, like, ‘Yeah, I won that.’ But thinking in retrospect, I don’t know, for sure people were seeing something else.”
Namajunas says what matters at this point is that she got out of the fight relatively unscathed.
“Just in a general sense, I will say it just basically had to do with, I have my three goals,” she said. “My base-level goal is to come out unscathed, like happy, healthy, and safe.
“And then number two was obviously win the fight. And then ... ultimately [number three] was not only win but dominate and set myself apart from the rest of the division. That’s why I talked about it in all my interviews leading up to it.
“I literally said I’ll take what I can get, though, because ultimately, for this fight, all it matters is that I’m happy, healthy, and safe, because of just the patterns in which my career’s gone and all that stuff. That’s the main thing.
“And so, as far as all the things I wanted to get out of this, I got base-level everything that I wanted, as far as, I got what I wanted out of it. And it’s crazy — it might sound crazy to people, because I think they look at Carla as just Carla, you know? And it’s like, no, there were many moments to get in a lot of danger.”
Many observers like former referee John McCarthy are blaming Namajunas’ corner for her performance. UFC president Dana White also says he’s not too thrilled about booking another fight between Namajunas and Esparza, given how it went down.