Once overconfident, Rose Namajunas believes best is yet to come
Author: Kevin Iole
Date: April 13, 2016
Like any fighter, Rose Namajunas has had her share of ups and downs in her career. She’s still only 23 and in her six pro fights, she’s already fought fighters currently ranked Nos. 2, 4 and 7 in the UFC women’s strawweight rankings.
She’s had some spectacular wins, including a stunning 12-second win by flying arm bar over Kathina Catron and a frightful beat down of highly regarded Paige VanZant last December.
That fight was notable, depending upon your point of view, for the incredible amount of punishment that VanZant was able to absorb or for the lethal manner in which Namajunas delivered the beating.
On Saturday in Tampa, Namajunas will get a shot to avenge a prior loss when she meets No. 4 ranked Tecia Torres in a UFC bout to be televised nationally on Fox.
Torres defeated Namajunas via unanimous decision in an action-packed 2013 bout in Invicta FC, the all-women’s promotion. Namajunas had more than enough opportunities to win that bout, and blamed herself for being overly aggressive.
“I don’t think [the reason for my loss] was anything that Tecia was doing in particular,” Namajunas said. “She was able to get me frustrated and get me chasing her and not really doing what I do best. I’m good everywhere, and I’m an aggressive fighter, but I’m more of a cautious aggressive fighter.
“I play with my food before I go in for the kill, you know? I’m not like a Tasmanian devil. With someone very tactical and very meticulous with their style, like Tecia is, you have to be a little more patient.”
Namajunas was 2-0 when she faced Torres and just a few weeks past her 21st birthday. It was a heady time for her. She was coming off the arm bar of Catron that many named as the Submission of the Year. She was 4-0 as an amateur and 2-0 as a pro and, because her boyfriend, then-UFC heavyweight Pat Barry, was talking about her so much, getting noticed as one of the sport’s elite prospects.
She had several opportunities to finish Torres early in their first fight, but didn’t, and she became demoralized, to use her word.
It was all a problem created by her earlier success, which she said created the wrong mindset.
“Coming off a flying arm bar in 12 seconds so early in my career, it was such an accomplishment that you kind of get amped up a little bit,” she said.
It was essentially that she began to believe her own press clippings and felt invincible. Confidence is a great thing – and vital in the fight game – but too much of it leads to problems.
The younger version of Namajunas hadn’t really been tested by someone as talented as Torres, who could take it and come back and not surrender meekly.
“I was a little overconfident and maybe the way to say it is falsely confident,” Namajunas said. “I didn’t reflect upon what it was I needed to do to make myself elite. All those minds games – that fight was definitely messed up for me.
“Physically, I wasn’t the healthiest weight, as healthy as I am now. I was way under weight. I didn’t even cut weight, really. There were a lot of personal things that had carried over. Leading up to the flying arm bar finish, there were those problems I had never taken care of. I was upset with a lot of things and going through the motions and it fell over into my training.”
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