Rose Namajunas aims to become two-division champion with win at UFC Vegas 89

Rose Namajunas is setting her sights high despite her first flyweight fight not going her way.

Coming off of an unsuccessful debut at 125 pounds, the former strawweight champion gets a second chance to make a first impression when she fights Amanda Ribas this Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 89.

When Namajunas moved up a weight class this past September, she ended up dropping a unanimous decision to top contender Manon Fiorot. The loss has only motivated “Thug Rose” further in her quest to reclaim UFC gold and she believes it could happen sooner rather than later.

“Becoming two-division champion this year would be awesome,” Namajunas said, speaking at UFC Vegas 89 media day on Wednesday. “I know that’s a very steep mountain to climb and I know I had some setbacks, so obviously I’ve got to be realistic, but I do believe that that’s very realistic and God-willing that’s what’s going to happen. I’ve just got to take care of business this weekend and that’s what we’ll do.”

Namajunas twice held the UFC’s strawweight title and she can claim wins over the best of that division, including a pair of victories against current champion Zhang Weili and the recently retired Joanna Jedrzejczyk, as well as Jessica Andrade, Michelle Waterson-Gomez, and Tecia Torres.

With another camp to adjust to a change in physique and routine, Namajunas is confident that her second fight at flyweight will be more successful.

“My body’s feeling great,” Namajunas said. “I definitely put on more muscle for this fight. I’m around the same size as I was last time, I’m just more filled in, I’m more dense. Muscles are recovering, definitely was an intense training camp, but yeah, injury free and healthy and immune system’s super strong, I think some of those weight cuts before kind of taxed my immune system a little bit sometimes, so I’m very thankful for the health.”

Namajunas went as far as to say that she feels she’s throwing harder at 125 pounds, which could spell trouble for future opponents considering she already owns memorable knockouts of Zhang and Jedrzejczyk.

For now, Namajunas is comfortable having bragging rights over Zhang and is in no hurry to drop back down in weight. Eschewing a tough cut has already paid dividends for Namajunas outside of the cage, even as she seeks her first win in a new division.

“I just think health-wise, to me, it’s just not a healthy thing to do for me at this point,” Namajunas said of a possible return to strawweight. “I know that I can keep pushing through it. My mind got a lot stronger with cutting the weight, but I could tell my body was definitely not liking that as much.

“I could tell from my last strawweight cut. My eyes were sunken in and now it’s kind of hard to see myself like that. So even though the will gets stronger, the flesh gets weaker, so to me I’m all about health and wellness. Even though we’re about to go and fight, I want to preserve as much as possible.”

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