I lost because the Ronda Rousey comparisons confused me – I’m now a two-time UFC champion and hope to win another belt

I lost because the Ronda Rousey comparisons confused me – I’m now a two-time UFC champion and hope to win another belt

Rose Namajunas faced a major reality early in her MMA career.

‘Thug’ was just 22 years old when he went on an incredible three-match submission streak to earn a spot on the season 20 finale of The Ultimate Fighter.

Namajunas was seen as a future big name before her UFC debutCredit: Getty – Contributor

The long-running MMA reality show features select fighters battling together in a house for several weeks in a bid to earn a UFC contract.

Namajunas’ series was a little different, as she and her fellow housemates were competing for a chance to become the UFC’s first strawweight champion.

Carla Esparza also secured a place in the finals with three wins, but Namajunas was all the talk before the title fight in December 2014.

Excited MMA fans have likened the blonde submission fighter to Ronda Rousey, who revolutionised the sport and became a global superstar a few years ago.

Namajunas admitted that the praise hit her over the head.

“I didn’t really care about Carla,” he said in December 2022.

“You know, I didn’t think he was on my level.

“When you’re called the next Ronda Rousey, you think no one is on your level.”

Namajunas admits Rousey comparisons inflate her egoSource: @rosenamajunas – twitter
And it ultimately cost him dearly against EsparzaCredit: GETTY

On fight night, Namajunas learned that Esparza was actually a level above her.

‘Cookie Monster’ grabbed it with the first gong, winning via submission in the third round to win the UFC’s first ever 115lbs title.

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Namajunas never took the devastating defeat to heart and quickly became one of Dana White’s top contenders after signing with MMA’s leading organization.

The American model shaved her head to avoid unnecessary comparisons and a ‘beauty pageant’ ahead of her victory over Paige VanZant in December 2015.

Namajunas became a champion 23 months later when she shocked the world by knocking out Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

The 32-year-old defeated Jedrzejczyk in five rounds before surrendering her title to Jessica Andrade in a rematch that Andrade won with a bizarre slam knockout.

Namjunas is undoubtedly one of the best female UFC fighters of all timeSource: Getty
But he is 0-2 in fights against EsparzaCredit: GETTY

Namajunas avenged that defeat at UFC 251 in 2020 and won another strawweight gold medal in April 2021 by defeating Weili Zhang in one round.

Later in the year, she solidified her status as the best 155lb fighter in MMA by defeating Zhang once again, but this time she needed help from the judges.

At UFC 274, Namajunas finally got her chance to avenge her infamous defeat to Esparza, but she froze and lost again after a poor fight that Joe Rogan eventually called the ‘worst of the worst.’

The second defeat to Esparza led to further changes for Namajunas, who decided to work towards capturing the flyweight belt held by Alexa Grasso.

Manon Fiorot destroyed her opponent in her first match but then defeated Amanda Ribas at 125 pounds.

Namajunas hopes to continue her title defense by facing No. 11 contender Tracey Cortez, who is on an impressive 11-fight winning streak after ending her MMA career with a loss in 2017.

A win would put her on track to become a two-weight champion, but another loss would lead to calls for Namajunas to return to strawweight and fight women her own size.