Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Suarez Questions Why Namajunas Was So Scared Of Esparza’s Wrestling

Like most, Tatiana Suarez was left confused by former two-time UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas‘ approach against Carla Esparza last month.

UFC 274 was one of the most-anticipated cards of this year so far, and in many ways it delivered. But while the headliner saw Charles Oliveira record a memorable submission victory over Justin Gaethje 3:22 into the contest, 25 minutes of co-main event action offered much less.

After a memorable 2021, Namajunas was looking to extend her second reign beyond the length of her first in a rematch against Esparza. While “Cookie Monster” submitted her the first go-around, most were expecting “Thug Rose” to exact revenge in Arizona.

But after five rounds of what could barely even be described as a sparring session, fans were left disappointed, the crowd was left booing, and Namajunas’ was left without the title in her possession.

Not much has changed about the perception of Namajunas’ performance since, even in spite of Pat Barry’s best efforts to explain the strategy in a post-fight interview.

While most remain bewildered at the now-former champ’s inactivity on the feet, which is where most acknowledged she’d have a firm edge over the challenger, Tatiana Suarez also doesn’t understand Namajunas’ grappling fear.

During a recent appearance on The Schmozone podcast, the undefeated 31-year-old admitted that she’s still unsure on what caused the dull affair at UFC 274. But ultimately, Suarez believes that Namajunas entered the contest far more afraid of Esparza’s grappling than was necessary.

“I don’t know if (Esparza) really beat her. I don’t even know what that was. I’m still trying to process it. It was like the battle of the feints out there,” said Suarez. “How do you even score that fight? … I was very surprised at how little she (Namajunas) did. She was so scared of the wrestling, and I honestly don’t think that Carla is that much better in that department than Rose. I feel like Rose could’ve grappled with her a lot more, and it would’ve been fine.

“She fought with Weili Zhang and she grappled with her a lot, and she did well. So I was very surprised that she didn’t grapple more. Why not go on the ground? Why not?” Suarez questioned. “I’ve fought Carla, so I know her strength, right? And so, yeah, I don’t think (she’s stronger than Zhang).”

Whether through too much focus on her 2014 submission loss to Esparza or the prevailing narrative being that the challenger had to force the fight to the ground to win, it was clear that Namajunas’ game plan involved avoiding grappling exchanges at all costs.

Unfortunately, a consequence of that strategy was seemingly avoiding exchanges, period.

Do you agree with Tatiana Suarez? Should Rose Namajunas have been more open to grappling with Carla Esparza at UFC 274?

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