Thug Rose Earns Her First UFC Victory Phil Oscarson October 26, 2016 UFC “Thug” Rose Namajunas is a mixed martial artist fighting in the strawweight division of the UFC. She is of Lithuanian descent. As a young girl, Namajunas trained in Taekwondo before moving into mixed martial arts. The Wisconsin-based fighter trains with Duke Roufus at Roufusport in Milwaukee, WI. Before joining the UFC, Rose gained popularity fighting under the Invicta Fighting Championship banner. She is a crafty submission artist, earning four of her five wins by way of submission. She even attained a highlight reel victory with a flying armbar during her time in Invicta. Her background in Taekwondo and karate is demonstrated by her use of flashy kicks in the cage. She trains with former UFC champion Anthony Pettis and her boyfriend, former UFC star Pat Barry. The Ultimate Fighter The UFC formed a women’s strawweight division and used their Ultimate Fighter platform to crown the first strawweight champion. Namajunas was invited, along with 10 other contestants, to compete on the show’s 20th season. She competed on the former lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez’s team and advanced to the show’s finale. In her official UFC debut, she faced Carla Esparza for the vacant strawweight title and lost in the third round via submission. Namajunas still earned $50,000 in bonuses for her performances on The Ultimate Fighter. Ultimate Fighting Championship Rose Namajunas was scheduled to fight Nina Ansaroff at UFC 187 for her next fight, but Ansaroff pulled out of the bout at the last minute due to illness. Instead, Namajunas faced Angela Hill months later at UFC 192. Angela Hill was also on The Ultimate Fighter 20, but was eliminated by Carla Esparza due to Hill’s limited MMA experience. Sports betting sites such as betonline.com review listed Namajunas as a heavy favorite to win over Angela Hill. MMA forum Sherdog listed Rose as a -250 favorite. First UFC Victory On October 3, 2015, Rose Namajunas faced Angela Hill on the prelims of UFC 192. The fight began on the feet and both fighters appeared to be evenly matched in striking. Namajunas landed the seemingly stronger strikes, while Hill connected with a heavy leg kick. Rose’s superiority on the ground became evident once she scored a trip takedown and got on top of her opponent. Hill desperately tried to get back to her feet, but it was too late. As her opponent turtled up to escape, Rose secured the back position on Hill and sunk in a rear-naked choke. Hill managed to hand fight for a moment and got back to her feet, but Rose was relentless with the submission attack. She held the rear-naked choke even as Hill stood up and walked to the cage. Finally, Hill collapsed forward and the fight was over. Namajunas earned her submission victory for her first UFC victory at 2:47 in the first round. In her post-fight interview with commentator Joe Rogan, she said, “Patience was the key in this fight and I got the win”. Aftermath After earning her first UFC victory, Namajunas went on a little bit of a mean streak. Replacing the injured Joanne Calderwood to headline UFC Fight Night 80, Rose dominated rising star Paige Van Zant in a bloody five-round affair. She took her opponent down at will, bloodied her up with strikes, and nearly submitted Van Zant three times. The win earned Rose a Performance of the Night award. Her next fight was a rematch against Tecia Torres, who defeated Rose earlier in her career. She defeated Torres via unanimous decision at UFC on Fox 19. Rose’s most recent bout was against Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 201. She lost narrowly to Kowalkiewicz by split decision, but is poised to make a comeback in 2017.