Rose Namajunas has lost and rediscovered her passion for fighting.
The former UFC strawweight champion detailed her complicated relationship with combat on Monday’s edition of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.
“I lost the passion for martial arts and fighting. Mainly for fighting,” Namajunas said (transcript via MMA News). “I found my passion again. I went back to Minnesota to see one of my coaches from early on in my amateur career — Greg Nelson. He’s just like a huge inspiration for me.
“It’s been tough. I think the reason why I wanted to retire was because this isn’t a job where you can go in half-assed and not be fully passionate about what you’re doing. There’s been times where I’ve not been totally confident in myself going into a fight and then I just pull it off or get through it.”
Namajunas continued, explaining how the pressure of being a UFC champion impacted her focus and motivation.
“I made it into everything I didn’t want it to be,” Namajunas said. “I didn’t want the belt to define me and all I did was make it define me and that’s all that was on my mind every day. … It turned into a shackle and chain.”
Namajunas has not fought since UFC 237 in May, when she was defeated by Jessica Andrade, losing the belt in the process.
She remains one of the world’s very best strawweights, but her future in the division — and the sport — would seem to hinge on her motivation to continue fighting. The good news is that she is seemingly refocused having reconnected with her former coach Greg Nelson.
What do you think the future holds for the former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/12/2019.