Last month in the main event of UFC on Fox 22, Michelle Waterson defeated Paige VanZant in the very first round via a rear-naked-choke. Another women who has defeated VanZant in the UFC is the “Thug”, Rose Namajunas. Immediately after the fight she called out “The Karate Hottie” to a fight.
A month after the original call out, Namajunas explains why she was so quick to challenge Waterson, saying it’s the fight the fans want to see branding it “the money fight”. She believes Waterson isn’t quite ready for champ Joanna just yet, and she admits the likelihood of herself getting a title shot is slim, after losing to Karolina Kowalkiewicz in her last bout.
“I am a big fan of Michelle, ever since I started, she’s been doing this a long time. It’s one of the main reasons I always like to challenge myself and she definitely showed a lot of improvement in her last fight and she beat Paige (VanZant) faster than me so why not challenge her to a contest as well,” Namajunas told FOX Sports.
“I don’t know if she’s quite ready for the champ (Joanna Jedrzejczyk) just yet. I’ll fight the champ right now, too but it’d be hard to make a case for it coming off a loss. At the same time, I’m OK with anything but this one just makes the most sense to me,” Namajunas explained. “We all know that this is a business, we all know this is the money fight and this is what people want to see.
She is not interested in a fight with fellow top contenders Jessica Andrade or Claudia Gadelha. She explains why both ladies are not marketable fights for her. She feels the fans want to instead see “two pretty girls” fight, two girls who defeated Paige VanZant.
“As much as a killer as Jessica Andrade is or Claudia Gadelha, as much as they are formidable opponents and somebody I would like to face one day, it just doesn’t seem like the most marketable thing for me. I think people want to see me fight no matter, no matter who the opponent is, but why not? Why not put two pretty girls in there that can also throw down, that both beat Paige, both know taekwondo or karate, it just makes sense. It doesn’t quite make sense for me to take fights that won’t generate the most noise. I’m trying to make money here as well as be the best in the world. So she just makes the most sense for both.”
The “Thug” was surprised Waterson finished the fight so quickly, but she believes she too could have finished the fight quickly had she not bloodied VanZant up so much.
“I think the speed at which she beat her in definitely surprised me, but I knew that Michelle was definitely reinvented herself and gained some new muscles. Not just physically but mentally as well coming off a long layoff. You become very hungry. People always talk about ring rust, I don’t believe in that bull (expletive). I think if you want to fight, you want to fight no matter what,” Namajunas said.
“I was impressed with Michelle but I wasn’t necessarily shocked or surprised that she won. When I got a position just like that on Paige in the fight with her, but she was all bloody and stuff. I had her in position for the rear naked choke but I couldn’t really secure the position as well. I think it would have happened if I didn’t make her so bloody.”
Namajunas believes she matches up well with Waterson. She’s been reinventing herself as a fighter since her last fight and has been training with top UFC bantamweight, Valentina Schevchenko.
“I think I match up pretty well. I think she’s got a new set of muscles and hunger. She’s getting older now so she’s got all the more reason and drive to try and be the best she can be. So that makes her very dangerous. At the same time, I have a lot to fight for right now. It doesn’t matter who they match me up against, I feel like I will demolish my next opponent,” Namajunas said with confidence.
“I’ve been training real hard lately. I have some new ideas and a new outlook on training. Always try to reinvent myself, never try to stay the same person because that’s how people figure you out. We’ve got Valentina Shevchenko in town and I’ve been training with her a little bit. It’s just awesome to get somebody, just another alpha female that can test me to my limits. I’m really feeling like I’m on top of the world right now.”
Namajunas is excited for the year ahead, revealing she is glad 2016 is over as it was a challenging year for her.
“I don’t sit down for too long. I definitely enjoyed taking some rest and taking some time off. 2016 was really challenging for me,” Namajunas said. “I don’t know what it was. I was going through a lot of life changes and I don’t know what 2017 is going to be like but I’m just glad 2016 is done and over with. I’m ready to open up a new chapter and I’m just really excited.”
What do you think? Is Namajunas VS Waterson the next fight to make? Who do you think would emerge victorious? Let us know in the comments below.