Rose Namajunas is not backing down after receiving a ton of heat for her “better dead than red” comment regarding UFC champion Weili Zhang.
Namajunas (9-4 MMA) is set to challenge Zhang (21-1 MMA) for the promotions undisputed strawweight champion in the co-main event of UFC 261 on April 24 in Jacksonville.
Leading up to the highly anticipated contest the former champion in Rose Namajunas suggested that she was using communism as a motivating factor to dethrone Weili Zhang in their upcoming fight.
“I was just kind of reminding myself of my background and everywhere that I come from and my family and everything like that, and I kind of wanted to educate my training partner (Chico Camus) on the Lithuanian struggle and just the history of it all, so we watched ‘The Other Dream Team’ just to kind of get an overall sentiment of what we fight for. After watching that, it was just a huge reminder of like, yeah, it’s better dead than red, you know? And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Weili is red. That’s what she represents,” said Namajunas.
Those comments caused quite a stir on social media, especially considering the recent violence and abuse that some Asians have received due to their ethnicity.
During a recent interview with interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Rose Namajunas was given the opportunity to clarify her controversial comments. ‘Thug Rose’ explained that her comments are simply based on her experiences (h/t MMAMania).
“My opinions are based on my experiences,” Namajunas said. “It’s not something I looked up on YouTube. This is an actual reference to a documentary. If you’re confused about any of my opinions, you can watch the documentary, and you could get a good idea as to what my family had to go through, the reason I’m in the United States today, the reason that I do mixed martial arts, all of that stuff. I’d probably have a really different life if it wasn’t for just everything in that documentary, how Lithuanians had to struggle with communism oppression.”
Rose Namajunas continued:
“The reason I brought it up and referenced it is the reporter suggested that I had animosity towards past opponents, and that’s what maybe caused some motivation in those fights,” she explained. “And this one, there’s no animosity therefore there’s a lack of motivation. But that can’t be further from the truth. Number one: I don’t have any animosity towards anyone. Obviously I’m not perfect, I’m a sinner, I have emotions. But when I’m fighting there’s no emotions towards that person, it’s just the outward manifestation of my inner demons that I have to face every day. So that’s number one: no animosity towards anybody. This is not directed towards Weili as a person.”
“At the same time, I’m motivated for this fight more than ever,” she continued. “This fight, this is my history, this is where I come from, and these are the demons that I have to face every day. So yeah, I dunno. That’s just how I feel about it and if there’s any confusion, watch the documentary. I really encourage people to do that. It’s something I’m very thankful for because going through all that and knowing all the history, it reminds me why freedom is so important, especially in this day and age where my grandfather had to pass away in the hospital by himself and people are dying alone in hospitals without their family members. We should have the freedom to be with our families.”
Rose Namajunas concluded:
“That’s just my opinion, but it’s based on facts and it’s based on experience, not just something that I came up with. I don’t know what her beliefs are,” Namajunas admitted. “But here’s the thing, and maybe this is a question we can ask her: can we really even know what she really believes? She may be being told what to say, I don’t know? Do we actually know what she believes?”