Sunday, May 9, 2021

Namajunas Doubles Down On Anti-Communism Rhetoric But “Loves Weili”

Rose Namajunas is doubling down on her anti-communist rhetoric but is emphasizing that they were not targeted directly at UFC 261 opponent Weili Zhang.

Over the weekend, some of Rose Namajunas’ comments made during an interview with Lithuanian National Radio and Television made headlines. The former strawweight champion described her upcoming bout against Weili Zhang to be a symbolic fight against communism. More precisely, “Thug Rose” had this to say:

“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 (2012 documentary film) ‘The Other Dream Team’ just to kind of get an overall sentiment of what we fight for,” Namajunas said. “After watching that, it was just a huge reminder of like, yeah, it’s better dead than red, you know? And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Weili is red. That’s what she represents.”

Namajunas also stated that she did not hold anything against Zhang on a personal level, so the comments seemed to have been made within a symbolic context.

Rose Namajunas Responds To Public Reaction & Backlash To Comments

Unsurprisingly, these comments garnered a polarizing reaction from fans, with many believing they came from left field and inappropriately integrated politics with sports. Sitting down with ESPN Wednesday, Namajunas doubled down on her comments about communism but also stressed that she holds no personal animosity toward Weili Zhang.

“My opinions are based on my experiences,” Namajunas said in the ESPN interview. “It’s not something I looked up on YouTube. This is an actual reference to a documentary. If you’re confused about any of my opinions, you can watch the documentary, and you could get a good idea as to what my family had to go through, the reason I’m in the United States today, the reason that I do mixed martial arts, all of that stuff.

Champion Check-In: Zhang Weili | UFC
Weili Zhang in Front of the Flag of China. Image Credit: UFC.com

“I’d probably have a really different life if it wasn’t for just everything in that documentary, how Lithuanians had to struggle with communism oppression. The reason that I brought it up and that I referenced it is because the reporter suggested that I had animosity towards past opponents, and that’s what maybe caused some motivation in those fights and that this one there’s no animosity, so maybe there’s a lack of motivation, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. No. 1, I don’t have any animosity toward anybody. Obviously I’m not perfect, I’m a sinner, I definitely have emotions. But when I’m fighting, there’s no emotions toward that person. It’s just an outward manifestation of my inner-demons that I have to deal with every day. … This is not directed at Weili as a person.”

Prior to Namajunas’ comments that were publicized over the weekend, Zhang had expressed a desire to be friends. To further drive home the point that she does not hold anything against Zhang personally, Namajunas had favorable things to say about her upcoming opponent and implied that she would indeed be open to being friends, though she is unsure of the likelihood of that happening.

“I love Weili,” Namajunas said. “I don’t know her. I know she wants to be friends and all that stuff, and it would be great to get to know her, if we could, if it’s possible.”

What do you make of Rose Namajunas’ follow-up comments regarding her controversial interview from a few days ago?