Rose Namajunas’ signature look was born out of a desire to avoid getting into a “beauty contest” with Paige VanZant.
Namajunas and VanZant were two of the most exciting prospects in the UFC strawweight division when they headlined an event in Las Vegas eight years ago.
Ahead of their fight, “Thug” shocked fans when she shaved off her long blonde hair and shared a photo on social media showing she was now sporting a buzz cut.
“This is a fight, not a beauty contest,” Namajunas captioned the post.
“S*** bothers me at practice… Cut that!” »
The 31-year-old later insisted her comment wasn’t meant to be a criticism of VanZant, who had become popular with UFC fans for his looks as much as his performances.
“There was a lot of backlash against Paige, and people took it out of context like it was a criticism against her,” Namajunas told UFC.com.
“It’s not like that. But I feel like it’s sort of a statement.
“Why not do it to stay focused on the fight so I don’t have to worry about training and then rinsing and washing my hair and then drying it, getting everything pretty, makeup, then getting ready for interviews and photos, and then having to go back to practice and put it back together.
“I just want to focus on the fight and figuratively and literally cut back as much as possible.
“Society expects women to be pretty and to play that certain role, but I think we put that pressure on ourselves and on female fighters, especially if we’re what society considers attractive.
“We have this pressure to use this to our advantage, but for me it will only help you in other areas. I want to get as many advantages as possible by fighting myself. I don’t want to spread myself too thin.
Several years after picking up a fifth-round submission victory over VanZant, Namajunas is an enhanced UFC legend after twice winning the 115-pound title and defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Andrade and Weili Zhang.
Namajunas lost his belt last time out to Carla Esparza and is now gearing up for a run at the flyweight championship currently held by Alexa Grasso.
The Lithuanian-born American will take on top contender Manon Fiorot when she makes her divisional debut at UFC Paris on Saturday night.
As Namajunas continues to seek glory in MMA’s top league, VanZant’s career has taken a much different path since their 2015 clash.
“12 Gauge” lost three more fights before leaving the UFC in 2020 and signing a deal that saw him earn $400,000 per fight with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.
The 29-year-old hasn’t fought in any capacity since 2021, when she discovered OnlyFans and made more money in 24 hours on the subscription site than she made throughout his combat sports career.
It remains to be seen if VanZant will ever return to action.