The strawweights battled in the headliner of UFC Fight Night 80 earlier this month, and Namajunas dominated the action for most of it. VanZant did her best to battle through innumerable bad positions and to launch a comeback, but finally in round five. Namajunas ended it with a rear-naked-choke.
Recently the latter appeared on “The MMA Hour”, and Namajunas was asked if perhaps PVZ shouldn’t have been booked to fight her at this stage (since it was such a lopsided bout). “Thug” reportedly had this to say in response (quote via MMA Fighting.com):
“I don’t think so, I don’t think there’s…it’s a win-win situation,” she said. “[VanZant]’s just on a roll, and now she’s got that experience under her belt. Whether, it just depends on how she approaches her next few fights, if she changes her mentality I think she could do really great. And if she doesn’t, then, you know it’s just a learning process in life, whereas now there’s me, a superstar being born out of it. So I think it’s just all positive.”
It was definitely a learning experience for PVZ, and Namajunas has reached a new level of fame and status, as a result of her performance. Whether she’s a ‘superstar’ likely depends on one’s interpretation of the word, but there’s no doubt Namajunas is a rising commodity.
The 23 year-old went on to argue that she believes she’s next in line for a title shot, aside from Claudia Gadelha. It will be interesting to see what shakes out in 115 division over the coming months.