Former Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight titleholder Rose Namajunas had some interesting things to say after her fight at UFC 237 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That wasn’t surprising, as her honesty and willingness to be vulnerable have often led to interesting sound bites. This time, however, her thoughts were more broadly relevant than they immediately seemed.
“It’s just a huge pressure off my shoulders,” she said during the in-cage interview after her knockout loss to Jessica Andrade. This surprised UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who was sitting cageside on commentary duty. “What’s the pressure?” he wondered aloud. “Not having the belt anymore? Getting rid of fight week? I don’t understand. We work our entire lives to get [the belt], right?” At the post-fight press conference, Namajunas was asked to elaborate: What exactly was the pressure? Fighting generally, or being the champion specifically? “I mean, yes, being the champ, I guess … but honestly, just the fighting itself is a lot. It’s scary. I mean, that’s why I do this. I want to face my fears.”
If they sound like contradictory sentiments, it’s because they are. “Thug Rose” is large; she contains multitudes. Yet there’s an undeniable truth in the tension between wanting to face your fears and being utterly exhausted by them…Like