At the moment, Rose Namajunas isn’t thinking about fighting. But she has been pondering making some additions to her already vast skill set — and possibly her physical frame.
Namajunas most recently competed at UFC 274 in May when she dropped a split decision to Carla Esparza and lost her strawweight title. The former two-time champion headed into that fight with the plan to step away from the octagon for a bit afterward, one way or another, and recently partnered up with Polaris for the Polaris RZR Sunday Stroll content series. Namajunas, along with former UFC featherweight and current BKFC fighter Chad Mendes, boxing great Roy Jones Jr., and former NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. The video is expected to drop in early September on the Polaris RZR page.
Besides tapping into her adventurous side, Namajunas has her sights set on some different challenges in the martial arts space, as well as putting on some size in the weight room.
“Win or lose, going into the last fight, I knew I was going to take some time off,” Namajunas told MMA Fighting. “I knew I was going to at least take the summer off. I’ll say around September, I’ll know exactly what I’ll be doing. I have been training a little bit, but not super consistent. I did have this little shoulder issue that I’ve been trying to rehab, and there was this girl Isis [Verbeek] who just won her Invicta fight that came into town so I got to train with her a little bit, just some little stuff trying to stay active so I’m not on the couch completely.
“The thing I do know for a fact — and I don’t know when exactly I might fight again — but I do know that I want to do a grappling match of some sort. I want to really rack up some experience in that department. Also, once I get my other things in order, my life stuff, I’ll be lifting lots of weights, and maybe put on a little more muscle, and just kind of see what happens from there.”
When asked if that meant a potential move to 125, Namajunas wouldn’t fully commit to the move — but she certainly didn’t rule it out.
“I don’t know, you can do the math,” Namajunas said on a possible move to flyweight. “I really don’t know, like I said, just one step at a time. The UFC has given me some offers for things and I just need the time to just not think about fighting at all, and then in the fall I’ll kind of lay out everything to see what makes sense.
“Definitely I’m interested in grappling in the near future. Whoever is out there that I can challenge — and I want to get good at foot locks because that’s big now, and it’s come circle because people know how to defend them so it’s more of a complete thing again. But I kind of want to dive deep into the grappling world, then work my way back.”
Of course, should Namajunas make a move up in weight, Valentina Shevchenko is the current flyweight champion. Knowing the UFC’s stance on making the biggest fights possible, a matchup between Shevchenko and Namajunas would certainly make some waves.
Namajunas admits that there would be a cause for pause in some ways should the promotion present her with that opportunity, if only due to the friendship she has with MMA Fighting’s No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound women’s fighter. But the martial artist in her can’t help but be intrigued by the concept if the price is right.
“I love Valentina,” Namajunas explained. “In my opinion, and I always forget that Amanda Nunes is the women’s GOAT of MMA, but Valentina, if she keeps doing what she’s doing, you could make that case [for her] as well. I do consider myself to be Valentina’s friend, so in order for me to do that, we would have to be set up, not for life, but it would have to be for a very good reason for me to even want to step to her.
“She is amazing in all ways, and I have felt what she feels like in practice. I know a fight is a totally different thing, so that would be hard for me to say. Obviously, as a martial artist, that would definitely be very interesting. But, yeah, I don’t know yet. It would have to be [very lucrative]. I love Valentina. I consider her to be my friend. I’ve never had a problem with being cordial with people I’m going to fight. I’ve maintained friendships with people that I’ve fought, but I’ve never had an issue with fighting a teammate or anything like that. I have started to think a little bit differently about fighting at this point in my life.
“It would be difficult with the emotions and things like that, and I feel like I’m a different person right now. I would have to think about it.”