Rose Namajunas has revealed how Zhang Weili interacted with her after Zhang offered Namajunas an all-expenses-paid trip to China. Thug Rose suggested that Zhang’s interactions with her were rather strange, be it before the fight or after.
An American of Lithuanian descent, Rose Namajunas had recently opened up on her family’s struggles under the rule of communism during Lithuania’s time as a part of the Soviet Union. Leading up to her UFC 261 (April 24th, 2021) fight against China’s Zhang Weili, Namajunas was critical of the Chinese communist government and indicated that she was using that as motivation for her fight.
The UFC women’s strawweight star believed it was important for her to defeat Zhang Weili because of what Zhang represented. Rose Namajunas clarified, however, that she had no personal ill will towards Zhang, but was simply channeling her disdain for communist oppression into motivation for her fight.
Zhang Weili, on her part, had publicly claimed that she was willing to offer Rose Namajunas an all-expenses-paid trip to China to learn more about Chinese culture. Zhang alluded that there’s more to China than just communism. Rose Namajunas has now addressed this offer from Zhang and revealed how things have played out in the aftermath of the offer.
In an episode of ESPN MMA’s Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, Rose Namajunas was asked whether she got the opportunity to talk to Zhang Weili about the anti-communist comments she (Namajunas) made and the resultant fallout. Namajunas responded by stating:
“No, no, no. She never – with all the stuff that was, you know, said in the media, coming from her statements – she never introduced herself to me. She never said hi. There was many opportunities to, you know, say something. I always try to shake my opponent’s hands or at least, you know what I mean, unless if I really just don’t like them or something. But, so, that was very strange to me – to say that, you know she was interested in being friends, and wanted to invite me for a sleepover in China. But not even saying, not even, ‘Hey, what’s up’, you know, or something. So, that was very strange, and kind of, at the time, sort of rubbed me the wrong way. But I tried to not, like, look too far into it, and just whatever, you know.” (*H/T Sportskeeda for the transcription)
Furthermore, Ariel Helwani also asked Rose Namajunas whether Zhang Weili had any fruitful conversation with her after the fight. Namajunas reiterated that Zhang didn’t have any meaningful conversation with her, not before the fight and not even after the fight.
Rose Namajunas became the first female fighter to reclaim a UFC title
No female UFC champion in the promotion’s history had been able to reclaim their UFC world title after losing it. That was true until UFC 261 when former UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas defeated champion Zhang Weili to win the title that she (Namajunas) had lost in 2019.
Rose Namajunas etched her name in the history books by regaining her title, becoming the first, and thus far only, female UFC champion to reclaim UFC gold after having lost her title in the past.
Presently, it’s unclear as to whom Rose Namajunas could fight next. While a potential immediate rematch against Zhang Weili could be on the cards, Namajunas might end up defending her belt against the winner of the Yan Xiaonan vs. Carla Esparza matchup taking place at UFC Fight Night 188 (May 22nd, 2021).