Rose Namajunas’ ‘crazy’ flyweight move left top strawweight contender disappointed

Rose Namajunas' recent decision to move up to flyweight has left some top strawweight contenders disappointed.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 3 months ago

Rose Namajunas has been a strawweight competitor her entire career. She even held two stints as the UFC’s undisputed 115-pound champion and holds two wins over current titleholder Zhang Weili. 

But after losing the belt to Carla Esparza last May at UFC 274, “Thug Rose” has decided to move up to flyweight. And that’s left some top strawweight contenders disappointed. 

Rose Namajunas moves up to flyweight

The 31-year-old Namajunas first brought up the idea of moving up in August 2022, a little over three months after losing the title. At the time, she had her sights set on a possible bout with then-champion Valentina Shevchenko

“The UFC has given me some offers for things and I just need the time to just not think about fighting at all, and then in the fall I’ll kind of lay out everything to see what makes sense,” she said. 

“The thing I do know for a fact — and I don’t know when exactly I might fight again — but I do know that I want to do a grappling match of some sort. I want to really rack up some experience in that department. 

Rose Namajunas did enter a grappling match against Gillian Robertson in March and lost via submission within 65 seconds. After getting that out of the way, she made her flyweight debut official last week as she takes on Manon Fiorot at UFC Paris on September 2. 

Top strawweight contender disappointed by Rose Namajunas’ flyweight move

Rose Namajunas’ recent career decision left some potential strawweight opponents disappointed. One of them is number ten-ranked Tatiana Suarez, who appeared as a guest on the MMA Hour and spoke about these recent developments. 

“It’s really the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve been wanting to fight her. Because I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m back to 115 – maybe I could fight Rose,’ and it’s like, she’s going back to 125. I’m like, crazy.”

For Suarez, fighting a two-time champion like Rose Namajunas is more about respect and the competition than any personal vendetta. 

“Whenever I say I want to fight her, it’s not because I want to go beat her up, or something like that, I don’t like her. I just think she’s such a good fighter. Like, I’ll watch her and I’m like, amazed because how great she is,” she said. 

“I’m thinking, ‘Well, I want to fight the best of the best. I wanna fight the best people, because obviously that means that I’m the best when I beat them. Or even if I don’t beat them, I still shared the cage with an amazing mixed martial artist.

“It’s all about the competition for me. It’s not about wins, losses, nothing like that. It’s about competition, testing myself – that’s the stuff that I thrive on. I do it every day in the gym.”

Suarez has been calling out Rose Namajunas before UFC return

The undefeated Suarez (9-0) came out of a four-year layoff in January and submitted Montana De La Rosa in the second round in her return to flyweight. But ahead of the bout, she was already thinking about Rose Namajunas. 

“I would love that fight at any weight class because I do believe I could beat her,” Suarez said of the former champion in a pre-fight interview. “I believe that 100 percent. I think that I could beat her. 

“I think that my grappling is just so superior to her grappling, and I think I’d make it a nightmare for her in either weight class. I’d be strong at 125 or 115.”

Namajunas’ current record stands at 11-5.

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About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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