Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Rose Namajunas gives glory to God after becoming strawweight champion in UFC 261

Rose Namajunas is once again the UFC’s strawweight champion.

In a surprising knockout just 1:18 into the first round, Namajunas pulled off the upset of Zhang Weili in the 115-pound title fight that co-headlined UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday. After the win, Namajunas gave the glory to God.

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“I did it again, but God did it, man,” Namajunas said through tears. “I really just had to have faith in Him. That’s what got me through.”

 

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Namajunas defeated Joanna Jedrejczyk in November 2017 to first win the strawweight title, before losing it to Jessica Andrade in April 2020. Ahead of her title fight in 2017, Namajunas said she recited the Lord’s Prayer during the weigh-in.

The win on Saturday was just Namajunas’ second fight since losing the title in 2020. In her most recent fight, she narrowly defeated Andrade in the UFC 251 Fight of the Night in July 2020.

Namajunas’ family migrated to America from Lithuania as they sought to be freed from communist rule. She spoke recently with Lithuanian National Radio and Television (via CBS Sports) about how that has served as a motivating factor for her personally as a fighter, particularly in this latest fight.

“It’s nothing personal against [Zhang], but that’s a huge motivating factor of why I fight, and I fight for freedom,” Namajunas said. “I’ve got the Christ consciousness, I’ve got Lithuanian blood, and I’ve got the American dream. All of those things I’m taking with me into the fight.”

After beating Zhang, Namajunas has now defeated two of the most dominant strawweights in the history of UFC. She is also the first woman in UFC history to recapture a title.

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