Friday, May 20, 2022

Cormier: Namajunas “Played Chance” With Her Championship

Former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier believes that Rose Namajunas paid the price for “playing chance” with the strawweight title at UFC 274.

This past weekend’s pay-per-view brought us a host of memorable moments, from another finish for UFC submission king Charles Oliveira to Michael Chandler’s sure-fire Knockout of the Year contender against Tony Ferguson.

But one prominent matchup made headlines and caused discussion for all the wrong reasons.

In the co-main event, Namajunas looked to make the sophomore title defense of her second reign against former opponent Carla Esparza. While it perhaps never had slobberknocker written all over it, it’s safe to say that nobody expected the 25-minute contest that the pair put on.

After what was perhaps the worst title fight in UFC history, “Cookie Monster” joined Namajunas in the two-time champ club after falling on the right side of a split decision verdict.

One man who is often blessed with a front seat is color commentator Daniel Cormier. This time, his Octagon-side spot at the commentary desk was more of a curse…

During his appearance at the UFC 274 post-fight press conference, which came after his induction into the Hall of Fame was announced, Cormier discussed the lackluster matchup.

Ultimately, the former heavyweight and light heavyweight titleholder, who knows a thing or two about defending gold, believes that Namajunas essentially put her belt up for auction and didn’t bid for it.

“Rose and Carla are gonna be pissed off at us (the commentary team). Because we just had to, kinda, call it like it is. No one is above criticism, and that fight was to be criticized,” said Cormier. “Here’s the problem, right, if you’re Rose Namajunas, you go home and you are really disappointed because you kinda played chance with your championship.

“Those first three rounds, I don’t know how anybody judged it. I don’t know how any judge— listen, Jon Anik, who is literally one of the smartest people I know, goes, ‘The very last scoring criteria is Octagon control, which no one ever gets to.’ Tonight, that’s the only way that they could’ve judged those first three rounds and given them to Carla,” concluded Cormier.

Cormier Explains What “Froze Rose”

While both the champion and challenger mostly brushed aside talk of their previous fight in 2014, which saw Esparza submit Namajunas, Cormier believes that the result played a major role in the 29-year-old’s questionable approach to the rematch.

“It’s just a game of chance, and I just didn’t quite understand how either corner could feel confident in their advice to their athletes. It was a rough one to watch,” admitted Cormier. “And you know, I think that first fight, the takedowns, really froze Rose, because on so many occasions she’s given us tremendous performances.”

It’s safe to say that neither woman emerged from the Footprint Center with any extra fans. Nevertheless, Esparza has completed her long journey back to the strawweight throne. Despite the criticism the fight is receiving, she’ll no doubt be content knowing that the gold is in her possession.

Namajunas, meanwhile, will be returning to the drawing board in the coming weeks and months. And given her post-fight comments about defense, perhaps a read of the scoring criteria will be top of Trevor Wittman’s to-do list for his pupil.

Is Daniel Cormier right with his assessment of Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza 2?

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