Sunday, December 5, 2021

Namajunas Admits Pre-Fight Controversy Made UFC 261 Fight Harder

New UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas admits that the controversy surrounding her UFC 261 bout against Zhang Weili did add an unexpected layer of difficulty to the fight.

Leading up to the UFC 261 strawweight title bout between Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas, Namajunas was on record in making some anti-communist remarks and linking her contempt for the ideology to her upcoming about against Weili. There was some wide backlash and criticism for those comments due to the fact that Weili is not the president of China nor is she an elected government official in any capacity whatsoever.

Nonetheless, Namajunas’ initial remarks clearly translated to her considering the fight against Weili to be some type of metaphysical fight against communism. Namajunas would later clarify repeatedly that her comments were not about Weili personally and that they were just an expression of what she was feeling at the moment based on her own personal history and family background.

There didn’t seem to be any bad blood between the two that the public could pick up on. When the two came face to face, they had no problem shaking hands and keeping it cordial during fight week. Still, Namajunas admits that the hoopla of the whole thing did make her mental preparation for the bout a bit more trying.

“It was a little hard just because that wasn’t my intent,” Namajunas said at the UFC 261 post-fight press conference. “I was just being myself and trying to talk about my history and my story. Never was personal against Weili.

Headkick KO!! - Weili Zhang vs Rose Namajunas full fight video highlights  from UFC 261 title bout - Bloody Elbow
Rose Namajunas Lands Vicious Head Kick To Weili. Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

“Obviously, every opponent’s a little different, and it brings something out of you. It never was my intent, but it’s something that I was thankful for the obstacle to overcome that because every champion goes through the ups and downs of people loving them and people hating them at the same time.”

The cheers that rained down on Namajunas demonstrate that she is still very much loved, at least in Jacksonville, Florida. Meanwhile, her opponent, Zhang Weili, was booed out of the building prior to the fight beginning. Whether that fan reaction had anything to do with the pre-fight buildup or the political undertones behind them would be mere speculation. Regardless, Namajunas’ comments certainly did not seem to earn her any heat from fans yesterday. That was all reserved for the soft-spoken Chinawoman and now former strawweight champion, Zhang Weili.

Were you surprised at all by the fan reactions during the fighter introductions of the bout between Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili?

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