Born 29th June, 1992, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and fighting out of Denver, Colorado, Rose ‘Gertrude’ Namajunas is an American-Lithuanian mixed martial artist and Women’s Strawweight Champion.
Nicknamed “Thug Rose”, Namajunas earned this name originally due to her intimidating scowl, however, this morphed in reference to how she dealt with trash talking opponents.
“Thug Rose’s” tough exterior was not merely the result of constant and tireless training, but her childhood upbringing as her father suffered from schizophrenia. This led to social issues and hardships during her youth.
Despite experiencing family complications during her formative years, her technical fighting style and impeccable, elite striking ability became evident when she began practicing Taekwondo at age 5. At age 9, she earned her junior black belt (“poom belt”). This got her venturing on to practice karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, becoming proficient in both during her early adolescent and teen years.
Rose maintains a strong family bond as she frequently visits Lithuania, understands the national language, and her full name is in honor of her great-grandmother, “Rožė Gotšalkaitė Namajūniene”.
Regardless of a loss or a victory, her technical talent and striking prowess was evident especially given her early involvement with martial arts. Her fluid movement, elite grappling ability, and impeccable striking style has solidified Rose’s position. As of October 5th, 2020, ‘Thug Rose’ is ranked No.1 in the UFC Women’s Strawweight rankings.
So, after more of Rose’s story below, get ready to be stunned as we countdown Thug Rose’s Top 5 MMA Finishes (in descending order)!
Whilst in high school, Rose trained with popular North American striking coach, ‘Duke Roufus’ at Roufusport, where Namajunas trained in kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and also became a formidable senior-year wrestler at Milwaukee High School of the Arts.
Namajunas’s martial arts background gave her a strong fighting base as the now 28-year-old American-Lithuanian contender holds a taekwondo and karate black belt, and BJJ brown belt under Tony Basile. This development and years of training aided the Lithuanian to excel with a flawless amateur record; including TKO’ing opponents twice in the first round, then two more by unanimous decision. Even at 20 years-old, her match performances show Rose is a natural ‘thug’ at heart!
Rose made her professional MMA debut in 2013 versus Emily Kagan at Invicta FC 4, where after a back and forth three rounder, secured a rear-naked choke along with ‘Submission of the Night’ honors. This would eventually become a staple of her performances as her grappling capability would overwhelm the fighters she faced.
Subsequently, Namajunas would secure a victory over her next opponent, ‘Kathina Lowe’, winning by a slick flying armbar 12 seconds into round 3 at Invicta FC 5. She would again be awarded ‘Submission of the Night’ honors but unfortunately, her third professional match against Tecia Torres ended in a unanimous decision loss. However, this did not stop ‘Thug Rose’ from pushing forward where, in the same year, she would join The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).
Rose is most notably recognized for her dominating performances over UFC No.2-ranked Strawweight and former Strawweight champ, Joanna Jędrzejczyk. ‘Thug Rose’ would earn her title shot in 2017 where she would beat former strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, surprising the MMA world as she came in as a big underdog at UFC 217.
Her win over Jedrzejczyk was her first knockout victory and was also declared ‘one of the biggest upsets in MMA history’. She beat the ‘Boogie Woman’ not only once but twice, by TKO in their first bout and by winning a unanimous decision in their second.
Prior to fights, the Polish former champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk, trash-talked, raining an onslaught of insults on Namajunas, fishing for an outburst which came to no avail. The answer for Rose was simple. Give a blank stare, answer the respective media questions, but let your fight performance do all the talking!
As UFC Women’s history shows, Joanna was disposed of at 3 minutes into the first round at UFC 217, demonstrating that Namajunas’s unwavering focus and striking acumen cannot be underestimated. She is the embodiment of the phrase “keep your eye on the prize”.
In the mixed martial arts community, “Thug Rose” was known for her beauty and dynamic fighting style. However, the focus shifted to her striking and grappling talent as she shaved her head and dispatched opponents with advanced technical striking and smooth footwork.
She has produced a rising young star’s record of 1 KO/TKO wins and 5 submissions in her career. Her precise strikes and unrelenting pressure are key to her fighting game plan; however, her prime trait is her willingness to learn and improve upon her previous fights – signs of a true martial artist.
‘Thug Rose’s’ admirable evolution as a fighter would not have been the same without her fiancée and training partner, former Glory and UFC heavyweight Pat Barry. Further, training at ‘303 Training Center’ since 2016 has helped Rose in strengthening her stand up as well as her ground game. Right then, all that said, now onto the list!
- Vs. Angela Hill – UFC 192 (Oct. 3, 2015)
- Vs. Paige VanZant – UFC Fight Night 80 (Dec. 10, 2015)
- Vs. Kathina Lowe – Invicta FC 5 (April 5, 2013)
- Vs. Michelle Waterson– UFC on Fox 24 (April 15, 2017)
- Vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk – UFC 217 (Nov. 4, 2017)
Rose’s bout versus Angela Hill was her first match after losing to Carla Esparza in ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Finale’. She sought to avenge that loss and also make a clear statement about the skills she possesses.
The first round began with Rose applying pressure and closing the distance between herself and Hill. However, she was aware of going into Hill’s range and was constantly vigilant, bouncing in and out and staying on her toes.
Rose would use step-in jabs then push back to a comfortable distance and position herself to set up for the back-hand counter shots.
Hill would also be bouncing on her toes, switching her stances when necessary but wasn’t quite able to land her shots. Later on, Rose would go in for an overhand right in southpaw stance, to change swiftly to a takedown. A scramble ensued and the two fighters grappled it out until Hill attempted to get to her feet.
Rose transitioned to back mount to sink in a rear-naked choke which is where referee Joe Solis intervened, declaring ‘Thug Rose’ the winner – 2 minutes, 47 seconds into the first round.
Replacing an injured Joanne Calderwood, Namajunas would fight rising prospect Paige VanZant at UFC Fight Night 80 but instead of the bout merely being a challenge for both competitors,‘Thug Rose’ put on the performance of a lifetime.
The 5-round battle this match was previewed to be became a dominating display of martial arts skill and capability by Namajunas.
VanZant had heart and mustered what she could against the American-Lithuanian fighter, but it was unsuccessful as Rose’s versatile arsenal of kicks and punches along with effortless footwork were just too much for the young star. VanZant was consistently out-struck and out-grappled but her drive to keep fighting was highly commendable.
In the end, a bloodied Paige would be on the receiving end of a signature ‘Thug Rose’ rear-naked choke where referee Herb Dean stepped in to call the match, awarding the victory to Namajunas.
Namajunas’ second professional MMA bout facing Kathina Lowe ended quickly but in spectacular fashion.
As soon as the bell rang, Rose drew the first shot, throwing a lead left hook which quickly saw things change into a grappling battle in a few short seconds. Rose would be pushed up against the cage until a split second later, where she secured the left arm of Lowe taking her down with a flying arm bar which turned out in her favour.
Lowe tapped out, granting ‘Thug Rose’ the victory and ‘Submission of the Night’ Honors.
At this point in time, a 24 year-old Rose was matched with the top contender in the Women’s Strawweight division posing to be her toughest match up yet whilst also giving her another title shot.
The first round began with both fighters keeping their distance and holding their guards high, whilst Namajunas was notably the aggressor.
Waterson throws sidekicks to Roses’ lead leg to slow her down and stand her ground. However, Rose sticks to the outside and throws step-in jabs whilst moving in and out, resulting in only minimal damage from the leg kicks.
Waterson goes in for a successful judo takedown and gets Rose to the floor. However, Namajunas gets the back mount with hooks tightly sunk in. After a minute, Rose transitions to half guard, putting more pressure on Waterson who is now on her back.
Waterson attempts leg triangles but is unsuccessful. Soon after, Rose finds an opening and rains elbows down on her opponent. Subsequently, Michelle would get up but take a knee to the head and eat elbow to the face during the transition. Shots were traded in a stand-up exchange where Waterson would receive a vicious straight right hand. Rose capitalized on this by initiating a takedown ending the round with both fighters on the ground.
The next round started off with Rose taunting Waterson on the feet, psyching out the ‘Karate Hottie’. Rose would put her leg forward and provoke Waterson to hit her leg, or attack it in some way. Waterson goes in for a single-leg takedown which Rose evades, moving back and countering it with a backhand right.
A kicking and punching exchange ensues but then, after an offensive combination by Waterson, she backs away to set up for the sidekick only to be caught by a head kick, knocking her down.
Rose then swarms in and begins throwing elbows at the downed Waterson. For the next minute and a half, Rose has ground control until her opponent attempts to stand up and an opening appears for a rear-naked choke. ‘Thug Rose’ secures the choke and taps out the ‘Karate Hottie’. Not only adding a win to her record, but also a title shot too.
In the lead up to this championship match up, Rose would be verbally dumped on by the former champ. However, even though she was known to be a trash talker, fans and the MMA community alike felt as if Joanna may have been over the top in trying to antagonize Namajunas. None of that would not matter however, as ‘Thug Rose’ would go on to dispatch her in convincing manner.
Before the first round began, Joanna was brimming with confidence and was convinced she would ultimately beat Namajunas. As soon as the match started, both fighters circled each other laterally at the octagon’s center whist trying to pick each other out with jabs and straight shots.
Rose continues to stick to her game plan and close the distance between her and Joanna. Shots were thrown here and there but neither landed significant damage on the other. It was level until Rose went in for a rushing, offensive combination, hitting Joanna with a straight right that knocked her down.
Namajunas goes in for the ground and pound, but the former champ prevails and gets up. However, she is stunned and Rose notices this. Combinations are thrown again by both fighters until ‘Thug Rose’ sets up for a lunging lead left hook, straight right, then low kick.
The lead hook lands and knocks Joanna down to the mat. Rose finally puts the final nail in the coffin and goes in for a flurry of ground and pound, throwing hooks to the side of the head wherein referee John McCarthy intervenes.
This declared Namajunas the winner, Strawweight Champion, and to sweeten the deal further, she won a $25,000 ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus.