Last month, UFC president Dana White claimed this season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” the first in the series’ 20-season domestic run to feature an all-women’s cast, had “the next Ronda Rousey.”
What exactly did White mean by that? Someone who’s as pretty? Someone who’s as dominant? Someone who’s got the it factor? Someone with dirty-blonde hair? All of the above? Or did White merely have his promoter’s cap on trying to pump a reality show that is in desperate need of … well, a lot of things.
If you were to ask Ronda Rousey who the next Ronda Rousey is, she knew who it was long before the show premiered last Wednesday.
“I definitely think it’s Rose Namajunas (pictured),” said Rousey over thee weekend in Brazil (transcribed by MMAFighting.com). “I called it from the very beginning. As soon as I saw her, I saw this girl is special. I’ve been following her for two years. I only finally got to meet her. I’ve been stalking her on Instagram for year. It was so great to be able to meet her, and I wish her all the luck. I can’t wait to see how she does in the season.”
Because Namajunas only has three professional fights (2-1) under her belt, she’s best known in the MMA world for being Pat Barry’s fiancée. However, the petite 115-pounder, who’s nickname is “Thug,” made a name for herself with a flashy flying armbar submission over Kathina Catron at Invicta FC 5 in just her second bout.
Her Pat Barry-esque enthusiasm following the victory is one of the many things that makes Rousey think Namajunas can revolutionize MMA the way she is currently doing.
“She’s got an amazing skill set, she’s an exciting fighter. She takes risks, she’s gorgeous, and she’s charismatic,” Rousey added. “I really think she has all the tools that are needed in order to be the next really influential champion.”
Namajunas – who took exception to not being picked by Team Pettis because Anthony Pettis and Barry used to train together – will represent Team Gilbert Melendez when she meets Alex Chambers in the opening round of the 16-woman tournament.
The winner of the TUF 20 tourney will be crowned the UFC’s inaugural strawweight champion.