Rose Namajunas - Biography

Rose Gertrude Namajunas is a professional MMA fighter from the United States. She is a UFC fighter who fights in the women's strawweight category and is the two-time and current UFC Women's Strawweight World Champion. Namajunas is ranked third in the UFC women's pound-for-pound rankings as of April 26, 2021.


Namajunas was born on June 29, 1992, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Lithuanian parents who had relocated to the United States in September 1991. Rose (Lithuanian: Ro) was named after her great-grandmother Ro Gotalkait Namajnien, whose husband Juozas was an Independent Lithuania military commander. In 1933, he joined in the Lithuanian military and was promoted to lieutenant in 1936. He participated in the resistance during the Soviet invasion of Lithuania in 1939.

Juozas was compelled to join in the Red Army when the Soviets seized the nation. Juozas quit the Red Army and returned to civilian life after Germany's declaration of war on the Soviet Union and the Soviet withdrawal from the Baltic republics. When the Soviets re-occupied Lithuania, Juozas was apprehended by the NKVD and imprisoned. In 1968, he was assassinated by Soviet KGB operatives near his house.

Algimantas Andriukonis, Namajunas' grandfather, was a great wrestler who won national titles in Lithuania as well as contests in the Soviet Union. Namajunas visits Lithuania on a regular basis and interacts with her grandparents in Lithuanian. Namajunas's father, Arturas, suffered from schizophrenia and abandoned the family when Rose was young.

He died of pneumonia in Germany in 2008, when Rose was 16 years old. Her mother was a pianist who received her training at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Namajunas grew raised in a rough area in Milwaukee, where she saw violence from an early age. Her mother worked a lot, and her brother came home very sometimes.

Her neighbourhood mates dubbed her 'Thug Rose' since she was the only white girl among them, as well as the tiniest, yet she was the hardest one in their group. Namajunas has said that she was a victim of child sexual abuse, although she has stated that she does not wish to discuss specifics. She attended Milwaukee High School of the Arts, where she excelled as a cross-country runner.

Martial arts instruction

Rose began taekwondo training at the age of five. At the age of nine, she received her poom belt (junior black belt). She then began training in both karate and bjj. She began training in kickboxing and mixed martial arts with Duke Roufus at Roufusport while in high school, and she was also a senior wrestler at Milwaukee High School of the Arts.

Namajunas started his MMA career as an amateur in 2010. At Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, she studied under Greg Nelson. She had a perfect amateur record of 4–0, with two victories coming by TKO and two by decision. Both finishes occurred in the first round.

Invicta Fighting Championship

On January 5, 2013, she made her professional debut against Emily Kagan at Invicta FC 4: Esparza vs. Hyatt. After two back-and-forth rounds, Namajunas was able to clinch the victory by submission in round three thanks to a rear-naked choke. Her win in her professional debut also won her the Submission of the Night prize.

On April 5, 2013, Namajunas fought Kathina Catron in her second professional match at Invicta FC 5: Penne vs. Waterson. She won by submission after a flying armbar 12 seconds into the first round. Namajunas received her second Invicta Submission of the Night award for this performance. On July 13, 2013, Namajunas faced off against fellow unbeaten prospect Tecia Torres at Invicta FC 6: Coenen vs. Cyborg. Namajunas was defeated by a unanimous decision.

Namajunas at Invicta Fighting Championship
Ultimate Fighting Championship

Namajunas was signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on December 11, 2013, along with ten other strawweight competitors, to participate in season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, which will crown the first-ever UFC strawweight champion.

Gilbert Melendez selected Namajunas as the fourth selection. In the tournament's preliminary round, she submitted Alex Chambers with a rear-naked choke. Namajunas played Joanne Calderwood in the quarter-finals. She won the bout in the second round with a kimura.

Namajunas played Randa Markos in the semi-finals. She won the battle again in the first round with a kimura.

Despite losing in the season finale of The Ultimate Fighter, Namajunas received two $25,000 season bonus awards for Performance of the Season and Fight of the Season for her fight with Joanne Calderwood.

Namajunas was scheduled to fight Nina Ansaroff in a preliminary battle at UFC 187 on May 23, 2015. Ansaroff missed weight by 4 pounds before to the bout and was fined 20% of her fight purse. The fight was called off a few hours before the event because Ansaroff was deemed medically unable to participate due to sickness.

According to Ansaroff's camp, she had the flu the week before the bout, and the weight reduction aggravated the sickness, causing Ansaroff to quit her weight cut early and eventually withdraw from the fight. Despite the fact that the bout could not take place, Namajunas was paid her entire fight pay (show- and win money).

Namajunas faced Angela Hill at UFC 192 on October 3, 2015. Namajunas knocked Hill down with a trip off a punch after some back-and-forth hitting exchanges on the feet. Namajunas immediately grabbed a rear-naked choke as Hill stood up, submitting Hill in the first round. Namajunas fought streaking prospect Paige VanZant in the main event of UFC Fight Night 80 on December 10, 2015, in a fast turnaround, replacing an injured Joanne Calderwood.

Namajunas won the bout with a rear naked choke halfway through the fifth round. Namajunas also received her first Performance of the Night bonus award as a result of her victory. On April 15, 2017, Namajunas fought Michelle Waterson at UFC on Fox 24. Namajunas won via submission in round 2 due to a rear-naked choke, her fifth submission result in her career.

Namajunas after winning a ufc match
UFC Strawweight champion

On November 4, 2017, Namajunas squared off against Strawweight champion Joanna Jdrzejczyk at UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden in New York. She entered the match as a huge underdog against the unbeaten champion. Namajunas won via KO in the first round, establishing herself as the new UFC Women's Strawweight Champion. Namajunas also received her second Performance of the Night bonus award as a result of her victory.

Namajunas's first knockout win in her professional career (2 TKO-wins as an amateur). Namajunas said during the UFC 217 post-fight news conference that she wanted to utilise her title position to raise awareness of mental illness. Namajunas made her maiden championship defence against Jdrzejczyk in a rematch on April 7, 2018, at UFC 223. She was victorious by unanimous decision.

Namajunas with her UFC Strawweight champion
Second strawweight title reign

On April 24, 2021, Namajunas fought Zhang Weili for the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship at UFC 261. She won via knockout in the first round after hitting a head kick, becoming the UFC Women's Strawweight World Champion for the second time. Namajunas made history by becoming the first female fighter to successfully reclaim a UFC Championship title.

Namajunas received the Performance of the Night bonus award for his victory. Namajunas vs. Zhang for the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship is set for November 6, 2021 at UFC 268.

Namajunas with her Second strawweight title reign
Fighting method

Namajunas employs forward movement while applying pressure with punches and high kicks. She is well-known for her sophisticated technical hitting and footwork, which she employs via a range of angles and inventive modifications.

During her battle at Invicta FC 6, she targeted her opponent's head with axe kicks, front kicks, and forward roundhouse kicks. She will sometimes try to grab and accomplish a submit after closing the gap.

Namajunas Fighting method
Private Life

Namajunas is a Christian who opposes communism. Namajunas discussed the history of communist persecution in her native country Lithuania before her battle against Chinese boxer Zhang Weili, citing the documentary The Other Dream Team as an influence.

She claims the video provides a 'fair understanding of what my family had to go through, why I'm in the United States now, why I practise mixed martial arts, all of that things.' She described her struggle with Zhang as a battle between communism and freedom, claiming that 'Weili is red' and 'represents [communism],' citing her family's experience in Lithuania under the previous USSR government, and claiming that it is 'better dead than red.'

In a subsequent interview, Namajunas claimed that her remarks were not intended directly towards Zhang, but rather about her own 'internal struggles' and 'generational PTSD.' Zhang subsequently said that she disregarded Namajunas' remarks and that 'as an athlete, you have to concentrate on yourself.'

Namajunas said, 'I've got the Christ consciousness, I've got Lithuanian blood, and I've got the American dream' when asked about her background and reason for fighting. Namajunas was formerly known as 'The Riveter,' a tribute to the American cultural figure Rosie the Riveter. Friends gave her the nickname 'Thug Rose' when she was little because of her frightening scowl.

It was given to me by several of my neighbours. When I was younger, I was the only white girl, I was smaller than everyone else, and for some reason, I simply behaved tougher — fearless, you know? They nicknamed me that because of the frightening scowl I usually had on my face.

Namajunas private life

Namajunas is the fiancée and training partner of Pat Barry, a former Glory and UFC heavyweight who is 13 years her senior. Namajunas and Barry met at Duke Roufus' gym, where Barry began training after losing his house to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Namajunas began training there while still in high school.

He says that the first time he met Namajunas, he fell in love with her. Barry said in a December 2014 interview that he and Namajunas had been dating 'for nearly five years now,' whereas Namajunas thought it had been 'two or three years.' In 2014, the pair got engaged. Namajunas has a brother, Nojus, who used to run a private piano studio. Namajunas has been playing the piano since she was five years old. Nolus is also an MMA fighter who made his professional debut in March 2021.