New York, NY — GOAT is reserved for a small group of athletes who achieve extraordinary success in their respective sport. Many believe UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas has now staked her claim into that group as the best strawweight fighter of all time.
Namajunas’ rise to stardom has been in the works for a long time. Her build has been steady; “Thug” Rose still keeps everything in perspective and still takes it one fight at a time. The rematch with Zhang Weili at UFC 268 was one of those bouts that helped cement her legacy, but it was different than the first fight.
“Very proud of myself. Yeah, it was a little tougher, but I’m very proud of myself,” she told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight, speaking backstage inside Madison Square Garden.
In terms of expectations in the rematch with the former UFC strawweight champion, Namajunas never really set them.
“I didn’t really have any expectations going into it. I figured that there’s a good chance that it could end up being a back and forth battle for five rounds. I more expected myself to, I guess feel a little looser. I was a little stiff sometimes then loose, then stiff and then loose so I don’t know. It was a roller coaster.”
Namajunas has a self-belief that she carries with her up to and inside the cage as she repeated “I’m the best” over and over again in her walk to the octagon. She even said it in the cage during the fight after Zhang was able to sneak a punch in.
“Yeah we were talking to each other in there. She was saying, well I was saying ‘I’m the best’ and then she was saying ‘I’m the champion’. And she came out and I was like ‘I was the best, I’m the best.’ So yeah we were going back and forth.”
After her latest performance, there’s almost certainly no doubt in anyone’s mind now that Rose Namajunas is absolutely the best 115-pounder in the world.
Official Result: Rose Namajunas (c) def. Zhang Weili by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 49-46)
Watch the entire post-fight media scrum with Rose Namajunas above and keep it here for more coverage from UFC 268