Rose Namajunas completely demolished Paige VanZant on Thursday night, eventually securing a rear naked choke finish in the fifth round of a one-sided fight at UFC Fight Night 80.
“Thug” Rose took the fight on five weeks notice as a replacement for the injured Joanne Calderwood, but showed no signs of any cardio issues in a measured, patient, and complete performance. The fight went as long as it did mainly due to the toughness and heart shown by VanZant, who refused to go away despite several near fight-ending moments strewn throughout the bout.
It began early on, with Namajunas lighting VanZant up on the feet in the opening round. Eventually, she countered an attempt from VanZant to throw her to the mat, and instead wound up on top. Some brutal ground and pound opened up a bad cut on VanZant’s cheek, bloodying her face up badly and putting her in a bad spot early. The second round was much slowed, with Namajunas not over-committing on anything, but VanZant still wasn’t ever able to mount much offense.
Things really picked up in the third, where Namajunas continued to control the grappling game. VanZant defended and scrambled out several times, but Namajunas kept attacking. She nearly finished the fight late in the round when she leapt onto VanZant’s back and locked on a rear naked choke. They violently crashed to the mat, but Namajunas had the choke on for several moments before VanZant was able to escape.
There would be even more escaping in the fourth round, as Namajunas went for several armbar attempts that came close to finishing things. At one point, she had VanZant’s arm bent at the elbow in a similarly nasty position as Ronda Rousey’s finish over Miesha Tate in their first fight. Still, VanZant wouldn’t go away, so it went into the fifth.
In a similar moment to the end of the third round, Namajunas took VanZant’s back standing and violently pulled her down. She locked on the rear naked choke, and this time around VanZant was forced to tap, her first loss in the UFC. For Namajunas, it brings her to 4-2 overall, and serves as her second straight win in the Octagon.
[Photo (c) Troy Taormina via USA Today Sports]