The UFC’s strawweight champion recently took aim at rising contender Namajunas for talking behind her back. But, the way Rose sees it, she did nothing of the sort.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is getting ready to face Jessica Andrade in the 5th defense of her UFC strawweight title. But, while the brawling Brazilian is enough of a challenge to keep anyone’s mind occupied, Jedrzejczyk found her attention recently sidelined by another rising contender. On her way to fighting (and beating) MIchelle Waterson at UFC on FOX 24, Rose Namajunas fell into the sights of Joanna Champion.
In an MMA Hour interview, Jedrzejczyk described meeting Namajunas. She described their interaction as polite and friendly, but then went on to recount how Namajunas told the media that she wanted to beat Joanna and take the belt. It seems that didn’t sit well with her, as she delivered the message to Namajunas, “If you don’t like me, don’t shake my hand and don’t talk to me. Don’t talk behind my back.”
It’s a similar stance to that of Ronda Rousey, who made a point of carrying professional competition out of the cage as a point of personal pride. But, if Joanna sees Namajunas’ behavior as dishonest or duplicitous, that’s certainly not how Namajunas intends it. In her how interview on the MMA Hour, Namajunas gave her side of the story, telling Ariel Helwani that she’s just extending professional courtesy (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“There’s just the way I am,” Namajunas said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I respect my competition. I think I don’t have to hate somebody in order to fight them, so, yeah, why wouldn’t I wanna fight her? She’s the champ. I wanna fight the best.
“I’m obviously coming for that belt, so I think she knows it’s inevitable that I’m coming for her,” she continued. “Or whether or not she wins, I’m coming for the belt. I’m a threat.”
No matter who wins when Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Jessica Andrade face off at UFC 211, it sounds like the UFC plans on having Rose Namajunas as their next contender. She’ll apparently be cageside for the fight and UFC president Dana White told the press after he latest win that Namajunas “thinks she’s ready for a title, and I agree with her…”
Of course, UFC title shots have a way of vanishing into thin air. But given the state of the division and Namajunas’ status as one of it’s most notable names, it’s hard not to see her getting her shot at the belt.