A Look Into ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Run of Former UFC Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas

Published 04/22/2021, 7:34 AM EDT


Rose Namajunas is one of the most accomplished women’s MMA fighters from the post-Ronda Rousey era who is still going strong. In fact, some might argue that she’s only just truly tapping into her prime potential as a fighter with championship mettle. In fact, she’s preparing for yet another UFC title opportunity as she takes on Zhang Weili at UFC 261.

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However, Namajunas’ success didn’t come from out of left field as she began her championship journey like many others. ‘Thug’ Rose competed on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Season 20 to eventually determine the first-ever UFC women’s strawweight champion. As she gears up for yet another chapter in her pro career, let’s take a look back at her TUF 20 stint.

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Rose Namajunas: Poised for greatness

Thug’ Rose was picked fourth by coach Gilbert Melendez and took on Alex Chambers on July 28, 2014, in the opening round. Namajunas defeated Chambers via first-round RNC submission and truly announced her presence on the show. From early on into her run, it was clear that her gamesmanship on the mat was second to none.

Furthermore, she continued her submission streak as she tapped out Joanne Calderwood via Kimura in the Quarterfinal. Chiefly, this win has aged particularly well given the trajectory Calderwood has gone on. Namajunas doubled down on her victory over ‘JoJo’ with yet another Kimura submission win over Randa Markos in the semi-final.

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Given the way she had dismantled her opponents, fans favored Rose Namajunas to win it all in the finals against Carla Esparza, who had racked up wins over impressive fighters in her own right. However, ‘The Cookie Monster’ proved to be too much for Namajunas as the bright lights turned down on the Palms Casino Resort in Vegas.

Carla Esparza won the contest via third-round RNC submission to become the inaugural women’s strawweight champion. Rose Namajunas would take away several lessons from her loss to Esparza that ultimately led to a title fight win. Namajunas has yet to avenge her loss to Esparza and will look to do so at some point down the road.

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Darryl Pinto

1450 articles

Darryl Pinto is a senior MMA writer at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his graduate degree in Mass Media (with a specialization in Journalism) out of Xavier’s College and has a year's experience in his current role. Darryl specializes in predictions, reporting, and covering UFC events live.

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