Rose Namajunas scouting Zhang Weili, coach calls Dana White title aspiration disagreement ‘a misunderstanding’


Rose Namajunas and Pat Barry | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Don’t get it twisted: Rose Namajunas’ goal is to regain the UFC strawweight title, no matter who she has to beat to get it.

That may sound like an obvious statement given that Namajunas is currently No. 1 in the UFC’s official contenders’ rankings, but there has been some confusion regarding the situation after UFC President Dana White publicly stated that he’d heard Namajunas was not interested in fighting for the title. Namajunas and her team were quick to respond and shot down the rumor.

In her lone appearance of 2020, Namajunas fought Jessica Andrade in a rematch of their UFC 237 encounter that Andrade won by second-round KO after a wicked slam. That win made Andrade the strawweight champion, but she would later lose the title to Zhang Weili before facing Namajunas again at UFC 251. Namajunas won the rematch by split decision.

Now that Namajunas is back on track, her coach and fiancee Pat Barry is putting his trust in the UFC to do the right thing.

“That was just a misunderstanding of some sort,” Barry said of the disagreement with White during an appearance on UFC Unfiltered. “I’m sure the UFC knows what they’re doing. Dana White knows what they’re doing. We know the call is coming. There must have been some miscommunication somewhere, but she absolutely—Yeah, of course, the title fight, but anybody. She’ll fight somebody today. This girl is ready ready.”

Namajunas also appeared on the podcast and she emphasized that she’s not shying away from the title, nor from Zhang, who has yet to lose in five UFC appearances and sports an impressive 21-1 pro record.

“I’ve been watching Weili ever since I saw her fight Tecia [Torres] a while back, I started to have my eye on her,” Namajunas said. “Especially ever since she became champion I’ve been scouting her out and breaking her down, game-planning for her because yeah, she’s got the belt, that’s really what you have to go off of.”

Namajunas said she’s hearing that March is a possibility, but otherwise she is ready for any date. Recently, she went on a road trip to expand her training, working with the likes of John Danaher in New York and Ryan Hall in Washington, D.C.

The trip and the time off that Namajunas has taken from competition proved to be rejuvenating and that’s been reflected in her preparation for her next fight.

“I think I forgot a few things,” Namajunas said. “Not just—I didn’t feel grateful anymore for everything. There’s one thing to know to be grateful and then there’s another thing to actually feel grateful for what you have and things like that. That’s probably the biggest change and then from there I started to lose myself a little bit. I started to notice—I’d say the biggest change was just not being grateful for things.”

“I think it was good to realize that I need to be in control of myself,” Namajunas added. “How to be in control of myself and from there everything else kind of just falls into place.”

Avenging her loss to Andrade did a lot of good too. Namajunas had never been KO’d in a fight before Andrade’s slam and she felt that she had settle that score before moving on to a potential title fight.

“Somebody dropping you on your head like that, that’s not cool, man,” Namajunas said with a laugh. “I gotta fix that mistake because I can’t go around walking around the streets knowing that that could possibly happen. I need to fix that mistake and I need to make those adjustments and make sure that I’ll protect myself from here on out. So I corrected that mistake, I put that behind me, and I’m ready for the belt.”

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