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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 their women’s strawweight division and is the reigning champion. Both of Namajunas’ parents are from Lithuania. Rose has stated that her father, who has since passed away, suffered from schizophrenia, which led to complications and hardships during her youth. Rose 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.
Namajunas began competing in MMA as an amateur in 2010. She racked up a perfect amateur record of 4-0 with 2 wins by TKO and 2 by decision. Both of the finishes came in the first round. 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 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.
Namajunas faced Carla Esparza at The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned Finale on December 12, 2014 for the vacant UFC Strawweight Championship. Namajunas lost the fight as she was submitted via rear-naked choke in the third round. Despite losing in the finale, Namajunas was awarded two season $25,000 bonus awards for Performance of the Season and Fight of the Season for her bout with Joanne Calderwood. Namajunas was expected to face Nina Ansaroff on May 23, 2015 at UFC 187. Prior to the fight, Ansaroff missed weight by 4 pounds and was fined 20 percent of her fight purse. However a couple of hours before the fights started, the bout was scrapped due to Ansaroff being ill and having to pull out. Though the fight couldn’t take place, Namajunas was paid her full fight purse (show- and win money). MMA media reported that it was possible that the fight could be rescheduled for later in 2015.
She faced Angela Hill on October 3, 2015 at UFC 192. She won the fight by technical submission due to a standing rear-naked choke in the first round. Namajunas fought Paige VanZant on December 10, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 80, replacing an injured Joanne Calderwood. She dominated VanZant throughout the fight, out-striking her consistently and landing eight takedowns. She attempted three submissions, two arm bars and a rear naked choke, before she won the fight half way through the fifth round via submission due to a rear naked choke. The win also earned Namajunas her first Performance of the Night bonus award. Namajunas faced the still undefeated Tecia Torres in a rematch on April 16, 2016 at UFC on Fox 19. She won the fight via unanimous decision. On July 30, 2016, Namajunas fought Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 201. Kowalkiewicz defeated Namajunas via split decision. Both participants were awarded Fight of the Night for their performance.