Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Namajunas On UFC 274: I Won That Fight; Fans Booed Esparza, Not Me

Following her highly criticized UFC 274 co-main event against Carla Esparza, former champion Rose Namajunas feels confident about two things: she was the rightful winner of the fight and the restless audience was jeering Esparza, not her.

In 2014, Carla Esparza became the first UFC strawweight champion when she defeated Rose Namajunas via rear naked choke. At UFC 274, Namajunas had the opportunity to showcase just how much has changed since their initial clash.

Instead, fans were treated to what some are calling the most boring fight in the entire history of the UFC. Even the color commentators on duty, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier, had a mouthful to say about the lethargic co-main event.

For Namajunas, her primary concern wasn’t about putting on a show but rather sticking to the game plan and emerging victorious. The former, she says, was a success; the latter, however, did not go as expected.

UFC 274 results, highlights: Carla Esparza earns strawweight title with  decision over Rose Namajunas -
Getty Images

When Carla Esparza was crowned strawweight champion at the expense of Namajunas for the second time, “Thug Rose” seemed genuinely shell-shocked at the outcome. At the UFC 274 post-fight press conference, she detailed why that was the case.

“I won that fight,” Namajunas began. “I stuck to the strategy. I feel as if I landed the more shots. I even took her down. None of her takedowns were significant or any control time. I mean, she hit me with, I’d say, one good punch and then maybe another time her forearm clashed into my nose at some point as we were posting up.

“But other than that, maybe a couple low kicks, but I didn’t feel them or anything. So I feel like I did the damage, I controlled the fight, and I’m proud of myself because I stuck to my strategy. That’s because I know that, in all of Carla’s fights, she just baits people in and she tries to get people to attack her.

“So it’s like, no, I’ve been in slugfests before. I’ve gotten my nose broken. I’ve stood there and I’ve shed blood in the Octagon. So it’s like, I stuck to the strategy. And she didn’t really have any offense. She was whiffing at air the whole time. So I thought I won.” 

Namajunas: The Fans Weren’t Booing Me

Namajunas stated that she did not like sounding “salty,” but she was merely being candid in her immediate post-fight assessment of what transpired. The former champion also went on to say that the slippery canvas is what prevented her from taking more chances.

“Thug Rose” also addressed the crowd’s reaction to the contest. While Namajunas is one of the more popular fighters on the UFC roster, as evident by the cheers she received during her entrance and introduction, that did not prevent the fans from letting both her and Esparza hear it for their display.

However, Namajunas doesn’t feel she was actually booed during the co-main event. Instead, she believes the incessant boos raining down on the Octagon throughout the fight were likely directed only at Esparza.

“There was moments where I wanted to capitalize a little bit more, be a little bit more offensive in moments, but then every time I would step, my foot would slip. So I had to be a little more safe. So that’s the decision I made in that moment,” Namajunas said.

“But like I said, I’m an exciting fighter. I’m a finisher. I have one of the highest finishing rates. So I don’t think that I was getting the boos. I’m pretty sure that was Carla. [LAUGHS]”

What are your thoughts on Rose Namajunas’ comments? Do you agree that she won the fight? And do you think the fans were aiming their boos only at Carla Esparza?

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