Is ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas the Best Striker in the Women’s Strawweight Division?

Published 04/22/2021, 9:39 AM EDT
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 12: Rose Namajunas battles Jessica Andrade in their strawweight fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


Former UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas is on deck for reclaiming her title from the current champion Zhang Weili. ‘Thug’ Rose challenges the undisputed Chinese champion on the main card for UFC 261, along with two other title fights. Namajunas has been a staple of the title landscape ever since she captured the belt from Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

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Despite facing a massive setback against Jessica Andrade, Namajunas was able to bounce back with a win in the rematch. However, it was in her defeat to ‘Bate Estaca’ that made fans notice the diversity in Namajunas’ skillset. She displayed some of the most lucid striking ever seen under the bright lights of the octagon.

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Rose Namajunas: A masterclass in striking

Thug’ Rose has evolved significantly since her early days in the company, especially during her stint on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. Namajunas’ game was routed in offensive grappling, and her primary goal was to seek the submission win. In fact, her three-fight win streak on TUF 20 that earned her a title shot against Carla Esparza all came via submissions.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 10: Rose Namajunas poses on the scale during the UFC 251 official weigh-in inside Flash Forum at UFC Fight Island on July 10, 2020 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

However, ever since moving up the ranks in the division, Namajunas’ primary focus has been to masterfully outstrike her opponent. Working alongside Trevor Whittman, Rose Namajunas has become a savant on the feet. Whittman’s abilities as a coach have helped several fighters tap into their potential in the realm of striking, including Kamaru Usman.

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As mentioned earlier, Namajunas’ loss to Andrade brought forth the best display of striking right until she was KO’ed via piledriver slam. She relied heavily on lateral movement and effortlessly managed to glide in and out of range. Moreover, her ability to cut off the cage at appropriate times has become a vital asset to her game.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 12: Rose Namajunas battles Jessica Andrade in their strawweight fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Namajunas carried forth her improved striking in the rematch against Andrade and made sure to come out with the win. She’s expected to have added more layers to her game and will be a force to watch for against Weili. However, the champion is more than competent on the feet and has the skills to challenge Namajunas.

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Darryl Pinto

1797 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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