Last month, UFC president Dana White indicated that Rose Namajunas did not want the next strawweight title shot.
It was a strange statement considering that Namajunas had avenged a previous loss to Jessica Andrade at UFC 251 in July to potentially solidify herself as the No. 1 contender for Weili Zhang’s belt.
“I don’t think she did [like the pressure of being champion],” White told BT Sport. “We’ll see how that all plays out. If you look at the rankings and how it plays out, it would play out Weili vs. Carla Esparza.”
At the time, Pat Barry, who is Namajunas’ coach and fiancée, denied White’s claim, and he further addressed the situation during a recent appearance on the ”UFC Unfiltered” podcast.
“That was just a misunderstanding of some sort,” Barry said. “I’m sure the UFC knows what they’re doing. Dana White knows what they’re doing. We know the call is coming. There must have been some miscommunication somewhere, but she absolutely—Yeah, of course, the title fight, but anybody. She’ll fight somebody today. This girl is ready ready.”
Namajunas, meanwhile, appeared on the show and revealed that she has been watching Zhang for quite some time now – even more so since the Chinese fighter became 115-pound champion.
“I’ve been watching Weili ever since I saw her fight Tecia Torres a while back [at UFC 235], I started to have my eye on her,” Namajunas said. “Especially ever since she became champion, I’ve been scouting her out and breaking her down, game-planning for her because yeah, she’s got the belt, that’s really what you have to go off of.”
Namajunas enjoyed a brief reign as strawweight champion before suffering a KO slam loss to Andrade in their first meeting at UFC 237. “Thug” Rose contemplated retirement in the aftermath of that defeat but ultimately reconsidered. Being able to avenge that loss played a big part in allowing Namajunas to move forward. Now she’s ready to make another run at UFC gold.
“Somebody dropping you on your head like that, that’s not cool, man,” Namajunas said. “I gotta fix that mistake because I can’t go around walking around the streets knowing that that could possibly happen. I need to fix that mistake and I need to make those adjustments and make sure that I’ll protect myself from here on out. So I corrected that mistake, I put that behind me, and I’m ready for the belt.”