Rose Namajunas has no problem speaking her mind. And that is part of the appeal of the former UFC champion.
But as Namajunas prepares to face Zhang Weili for the UFC strawweight title, she has come under fire about comments previously made.
In an interview on the Ariel Helwani MMA Show, Namajunas proclaimed that she is sticking to her guns in regards to her opposition to communism, adding it is part of her motivation to defeat Zhang – who is the first and only UFC champion from China.
Namajunas’ parents emigrated to the United States from the old Soviet Union. She is of Lithuanian descent and told Lithuanian media feels as if Zhang is representing communism.
“The animosity and things like that, those can be very motivating factors in short moments,” Namajunas said (thanks to The Blaze for the quotes). “But in all actuality going into the fight, maybe there was certain rivalries and things like that, but I always kept myself in control.
“I never really hated the person — and I don’t hate Weili or anything like that. But I do feel as though I have a lot to fight for in this fight and what she represents.
“I was just kind of reminding myself of my background and everywhere that I come from and my family and everything like that, and I kind of wanted to educate my training partner on the Lithuanian struggle and just the history of it all, so we watched (2012 documentary film) ‘The Other Dream Team’ just to kind of get an overall sentiment of what we fight for. After watching that, it was just a huge reminder of like, yeah, it’s better dead than red, you know? And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Weili is red. That’s what she represents.”
Despite feeling the brunt of some fans on social media, Namajunas just points to the documentary as a way to teach those about the past.
She also added that “I love Weili. I don’t know her. I know she wants to be friends and all that, and it would be great to get to know her if it’s possible.”
The two square off at UFC 261 on April 24 in Jacksonville, Florida.