Mixed martial arts “freedom” fighter Rose Namajunas is perhaps metaphorically getting an extra kick out of her upcoming bout with strawweight champion Zhang Weili of China on April 24 at UFC 261, and she has no regrets about talking about it.
In an era when everybody seems to be constantly apologizing for saying what’s on their mind, it doesn’t sound like Namajunas has any plans to do so.
Namajunas, 28, whose family immigrated from then-communist Lithuania says she is, in part, drawing inspiration from a 2012 documentary called The Other Dream Team, which is about the 1992 Lithuanian men’s Olympic basketball team that competed in Barcelona representing an independent country for the first time.
Lithuania officially broke free from the Soviet Union in 1990.
Namajunas has underscored that she’s harboring no personal animosity toward her opponent in the upcoming Jacksonville, Fla., matchup, in which she will attempt to recapture the strawweight belt she once held, but she apparently sees the other fighter as an avatar for communism.
“The animosity and things like that, those can be very motivating factors in short moments…I never really hated the person – and I don’t hate Weili or anything like that…but I do feel as though I have a lot to fight for in this fight and what she represents…
“After watching [the documentary], it was just a huge reminder of like, yeah, it’s better dead than red, you know? And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Weili is red. That’s what she represents,” Namajunas told a Lithuanian news outlet, CBS Sports reported.
Red, which has a different connotation now, is a reference to communist regimes during the Cold War.
“It’s nothing personal against her, but that’s a huge motivating factor of why I fight, and I fight for freedom,” Namajunas added. “I’ve got the Christ consciousness, I’ve got Lithuanian blood, and I’ve got the American dream. All of those things I’m taking with me into the fight.”
The comments by Namajunas, whose nickname is Thug Rose, prompted controversy on rush-to-judgment social media.
She reaffirmed her feelings, however, during an interview on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show for ESPN embedded below.
Namajunas told Helwani that she doesn’t expect anyone else to share her opinion, but her views are derived from the real world (expertise which is often in short supply on social media).
“My opinions are based on my experiences. This is not something I looked up on YouTube…
“If you’re confused about any of my opinions, you can watch the documentary, and you could get a good idea as to what my family had to go through, the reason I’m in the United States today, the reason that I do mixed martial arts, all of that stuff.”
“I’d probably have a really different life if it wasn’t for everything in that documentary, how Lithuanians had to struggle with communism oppression,” she continued.
“The reason that I brought it up and that I referenced it is because the reporter suggested that I had animosity toward past opponents, and that’s what maybe caused some motivation in those fights, and in this one there’s no animosity, so maybe there’s a lack of motivation. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Namajunas again stressed that she has no animosity toward Weili — who is the first UFC champion from China — as a person or anyone else for that matter. “At the same, I’m motivated more for this fight than ever. I mean, this is my history; this is where I come from, and these are the demons that I have to face every day.”
Namajunas conceded that she has no idea about Weili’s belief system, but also implied that the CCP-run government wouldn’t allow her to express her own opinions anyway. This is in contrast to America where we enjoy free speech rights to talk about America’s imperfections, “and I’m very grateful for that freedom to do so.”
She added that she looks forward to possibly forging a friendship with Weili after the bout.
Data has established that fans prefer sports to be a politics-free zone. Most of the politics that has emerged in the sports industry is of the left-wing, virtue-signaling variety. This is particularly true in the National Basketball Association, which simultaneously has turned a blind eye to financial partner China’s rampant human rights abuses.
“Namajunas’ comments sparked outrage in the media, the same media that refuses to question the NBA’s business relations with the Communist Party of China,” Outkick‘s Bobby Burack observed.
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