LOS ANGELES — Rose Namajunas isn’t quite sure when she’ll return to the Octagon.
In the meantime, the UFC women’s strawweight champion has a few significant things she needs to take care of. First and foremost is a compression fracture in her neck that she’s been dealing with since her camp for the second Joanna Jedrzejczyk fight.
“It’s the perfect time now to rehab that and just get better as a martial artist,” Namajunas told MMA Fighting backstage at UFC 227 earlier this month. “And to really sit back and see who’s the real contender in the division. Right now, I think things are a little shaken up a bit. There’s not really somebody clearly to challenge at the moment.”
Namajunas said she has her eye on the UFC 228 fight between Jessica Andrade and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. The winner there, she said, could position herself as the No. 1 contender.
Another highly ranked strawweight — Jedrzejczyk — has been doing plenty of talking. The former champion defeated Tecia Torres at UFC on FOX 30 last month by unanimous decision. It was her first victory after back-to-back losses to Namajunas. Jedrzejczyk believes she is the true top contender in the 115-pound division and she thinks she should perhaps get an interim title shot if Namajunas is not back soon.
Namajunas, 26, had said previously that she would not grant Jedrzejczyk another title shot unless Jedrzejczyk admits Namajunas is the best strawweight in the world. Jedrzejczyk said after UFC on FOX 30 that she’d “never” do that. Namajunas, for her part, has been silent and not gone back at Jedrzejczyk on social media.
“It don’t really bother me,” Namajunas said. “I know at this point it just kind of sounds silly. The more she talks, the more she just makes herself sound stupid. For me, I like to just try and be positive about everything as much as possible. Of course, you can get dragged into silly shit. I just remind myself that she was a great champion. I looked up to her at one point in my life for a reason and I just try and remember what she did for the sport and just kind of leave it at that. She was a great champion, but now it’s my time. And eventually she’s gotta come to terms with that and be OK with it.”
Namajunas (8-3) believes Jedrzejczyk might just be putting on a front. She might say she thinks she won the decision at UFC 223 back in April, but Namajunas feels like deep down she knows the truth — that Namajunas is the top 115-pounder and not Jedrzejczyk.
“I think you can just look at her face after our second fight, just look at her face and know how she really felt,” Namajunas said. “Body language kind of shows more than what the words really say or mean. To me, it looked like she was trying to make herself believe in it, that she really won. When she really knew, at the end of the day, that I won the fight.”
In her time off, Namajunas says she’ll be taking care of her injury and also attempting to set up what she wants to do after fighting. Namajunas has been very vocal about trying to make the world a better place, starting with environmental issues. The Colorado resident has spoken about urban farming and said she’s interested in going to Indonesia to help build Earthships, which are homes with minimal reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels, built only with available natural resources.
“I want to kind of do a little research out there, see what other people are doing,” Namajunas said. “Maybe not totally as extreme as going to Indonesia and leaving my whole family and my country for a month and building Earthships. Instead of something so extreme, maybe do something like that, but close to home and try to take the lessons learned from Indonesia and try to apply it to my own communities. I still haven’t figured out exactly what I want to do, but I want to take a little time to relax and then figure out the next step.”
Namajunas believes she has valuable time right now to think about and put into action future plans that will be there for her post-MMA career. She’s not putting a specific timeframe on when she’ll be back in the Octagon.
“It’s just kind of an interesting time for me,” Namajunas said. “I’m not really concerned with any of that, necessarily. There’s more to life than fighting. At the moment, I’m just kind of enjoying my life, while at the same time still looking forward, trying to set things up for my future. We don’t have a lot of time in this career to set things up for our future. Everybody talks about when you’re in the fight game you’ve gotta have a Plan B, this can’t support you — you can’t really live off this afterwards. But rarely do we ever get an opportunity tp really set things up for ourselves. Right now, I’m trying to take advantage of that and try to set things up for my future.”
Eventually, though, Namajunas will be back and ready to defend her UFC women’s strawweight title. She doesn’t anticipate that will be against Jedrzejczyk again, though, and she questions whether or not that is something that Jedrzejczyk truly wants anyway.
“I don’t know what she’s thinking, really,” Namajunas said. “But I know what she’s saying and she’s saying I’m scared of this or that. I think all that’s really showing is she don’t want to fight the best. She don’t want to fight me, when she knows I’m the best. She wants me to try and lose to somebody else or something, so she can challenge them or something. But she don’t really want to beat the best — and that’s me.
“Regardless of whatever she wants, whatever is gonna happen is gonna happen and I’m gonna still keep living my life and just remember that she was a great champion. She was a great champion.”