BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Even because the chaos unfolded round right here, the expression on Rose Namajunas’ face by no means change.
The UFC’s strawweight champion sat utterly stonefaced on-stage on the Williamsburg Music Corridor on Wednesday afternoon as Max Holloway and Khabib Nurmagomedov argued back-and-forth. If she was feeling any emotion, she wasn’t displaying it.
Final November, she was a lot the identical means within the build-up to her struggle with then-champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Few individuals gave her any probability of breaking down Jedrzejczyk’s air of invincibility, and there have been many who interpreted her stoic manner as being rooted in worry.
We all know higher now.
Namajunas shocked the MMA world by dominating Jedrejczyk at UFC 217 and selecting up a first-round TKO victory and turning into champion.
On Wednesday, solely 4 days earlier than she takes on Jedrejczyk in a rematch, she wasn’t changing-up what labored the primary time round.
“I’ve acquired some new muscle mass, I’ve acquired extra data, however my spirit is identical,” Namajunas stated. “I’m like a tree. My leaves might change color, however my roots keep the identical.”
In an MMA world that’s more and more dominated by bravado and trash-talk, Namajunas’ method to preventing seems like a breath of recent air. Like Georges St. Pierre a half-decade in the past, the 25-year-old is open about desirous to be a job mannequin.
She tries to not swear, she doesn’t degrade her opponents and she or he brazenly cried within the octagon as UFC president Dana White handed her the strawweight belt in November.
She even appears to have rubbed off on Jedrzejczyk, who was one of many UFC’s most infamous trash-talkers previous to shedding the belt, however was quietly respectful at Wednesday’s press convention.
Their struggle received’t be received or misplaced primarily based on any of this, after all, however the character of whoever holds the belt going ahead is probably going going to outline the ladies’s 115 lbs. division for the subsequent yr or two.
If it’s Namajunas, then strawweight would be the weight-class the place life is a bit more civil.
“All I would like is to be myself and that’s all that issues,” Namajunas stated.
On Tuesday afternoon, video emerged on MMANytt.com of Nurmagomedov and Artem Lobov being separated by UFC employees within the fighter’s lodge in Brooklyn.
Lobov is an in depth buddy and coaching companion of Conor McGregor, but it surely’s unclear whether or not that was the reason for Nurmagomedov’s anger in the direction of him.
At Wednesday’s press convention, Nurmagomedov refused to touch upon the altercation, which was severe sufficient that the UFC reportedly moved Lobov to a unique lodge.
Lobov wasn’t commenting on Wednesday, however is scheduled to look at UFC 223 media day on Thursday, so extra details about what occurred ought to come out then.
Based on UFC president Dana White, there are not any plans for McGregor to look at Saturday night time’s present on the Barclays Heart.
It’s been broadly rumoured that McGregor would present up on the Brooklyn present to help Lobov and to look at the 2 males who’re preventing for the light-weight belt – he’s the champion till they step within the octagon on Saturday night time – however White insisted there’s nothing deliberate.
“It might be superior if Conor got here,” White stated. “That is clearly a struggle that is essential to him and his future … however I don’t assume he has any plans to be right here.”
McGregor’s presence would immediately drive extra curiosity in UFC 223, though White is insisting that the occasion is trending to promote greater than any occasion since UFC 205 in late-2016.
When McGregor did win the light-weight title in 2016, White made it clear that he would solely be allowed to carry one weight class’s belt.
A pair weeks later, the UFC stripped McGregor of his featherweight title.
If Holloway wins on Saturday, he’ll grow to be the second fighter to carry belts in two totally different divisions on the identical time, and White doesn’t seem fairly as dedicated to taking one in every of them away.
“It’s going to be selected whether or not or not he can defend each belts,” White stated. “If he can defend each and is keen to struggle that a lot, something is feasible.”
Holloway’s scenario is clearly very totally different than what occurred with McGregor, on condition that Holloway stepped in on solely six days’ discover to rescue the UFC 223 major occasion, whereas McGregor actively campaigned to struggle for the title in each divisions.
It might be kind of merciless to punish Holloway for stepping up, and the excellent news is that he sounds dedicated to persevering with to struggle at featherweight no matter whether or not he wins the light-weight title.
“There’s loads of contenders at 145 lbs. proper now,” Holloway stated when he was requested in regards to the featherweight division. “There’s (No. 1 contender Brian Ortega), and I respect the fighters. I’ve gotta go there, I’ve acquired enterprise, however first issues first. It’s Khabib on Saturday.”