Flashback | Lets take a look at one of the most dominant performances in women’s MMA history in a fight that now Straw Weight champion “Thug” Rose Namajunas beat the daylights out of a surging superstar in Piage VanZant.
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Rose Gertrude Namajunas ( /nɑːməˈjuːnəs/; born June 29, 1992) is an American mixed martial artist. She is currently signed to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where she competes in the women’s strawweight division and is the reigning champion. Namajunas was born to Lithuanian parents. She has said that her father suffered from schizophrenia, which led to complications and hardships during her youth. She has also openly stated that she was a victim of sexual abuse and violence at a young age. Namajunas started practicing Taekwondo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the age of 5. She earned her poom belt (junior black belt) at age 9. After that, she went on to practice both karate and jiu-jitsu. At the age of 16, while in high school, she started training in kickboxing and mixed martial arts with Duke Roufus at Roufusport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she was also a senior-year wrestler at Milwaukee High School of the Arts.
She made her pro debut against Emily Kagan at Invicta FC 4: Esparza vs. Hyatt on January 5, 2013. After two back-and-forth rounds, Namajunas was able to secure the victory via submission due to a rear-naked choke in round three. The victory in her pro debut also earned her the Submission of the Night bonus. In her second professional appearance, Namajunas faced Kathina Catron at Invicta FC 5: Penne vs. Waterson on April 5, 2013. She won the fight by submission due to a flying armbar just 12 seconds into the first round. This performance garnered Namajunas her second Invicta Submission of the Night award. Namajunas fought fellow undefeated prospect Tecia Torres at Invicta FC 6: Coenen vs. Cyborg on July 13, 2013. Namajunas lost the fight by unanimous decision.
VanZant was born in Dundee, Oregon, and raised in Dayton, Oregon. Her parents owned a dance studio, and she was brought up dancing ballet, jazz, and hip hop for over 13 years. As a teen, she appeared in a mop commercial for Bissell. She was considered a tomboy while growing up, and loved the outdoors; her hobbies included riding dirt bikes and fishing. In high school, she was regularly bullied by a group of girls. She has noted this experience as one of the reasons she likes being a martial artist and having the ability to defend herself. She has modeled for Nike and Columbia Sportswear. Her father nicknamed her “12 Gauge” because of her love of shooting and hunting
After VanZant moved with her family to Sparks, Nevada, she was looking for a dance studio when she came across UFC veteran Ken Shamrock’s gym, where she began training in boxing and other martial arts. After winning an amateur fight at age 18, VanZant made her professional MMA debut on June 30, 2012, at UWF’s Tournament of Warriors finale against Jordan Nicole Gaza in Corpus Christi, Texas, winning by split decision. On September 22, 2012, she faced Amber Stautzenberger at Premier Fight Series 2 and won via unanimous decision.