At Saturday’s UFC 274, it’s more than the belt that’s on the line for champion Rose Namajunas. Now it’s finally time to revenge the loss against challenger Carla Esparza. Back in 2014 they fought for the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight championship. A fight Namajunas lost via rear-naked choke in the third round.
In the new UFC 274 Countdown episode, the strawweight champion admits that she completley overlooked “The Cookie Monster” going in to the fight all those years ago.
“I didn’t really care about Carla, you know, I didn’t think she was on my level,” Namajunas said. “Being called the next Ronda Rousey you don’t really think anybody is on your level you know.”
But Esparza proved to be a way tougher challenge than expected.
“Fighters will never admit that they, you know, have quit or whatever. But, that’s the first time I quit.”
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A wake-up call for Rose Namajunas
In hindsight both Namajunas and her coaches seems to view the loss to Esparza as a turning point in her career.
“We didn’t do what needed to be done in order to perform at the highest level,” coach and fiancé Pat Barry said on the UFC 274 Countdown episode. “After this fight we had a much better idea of what fighting is like, and this is where the getting good started.”
Since the loss, Rose Namajunas has won nine of her eleven fights, including two wins over both Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Zhang Weili, as well as defeating Michelle Waterson, Jéssica Andrade and Tecia Torres.