What’s next for Rose Namajunas after her latest victory? How far from a title fight do you think she is or should be given the close decision win over Torres?
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Well, if she fights like that against Joanna Jędrzejczyk, she’s not going to be leaving with a title belt. Namajunas looked uncomfortable and surprisingly ineffective for long stretches against an atomweight like Tecia Torres. If she fights anything at all like that against Jędrzejczyk, she’s going to be in deep trouble. Fortunately, Namajunas seems to recognize that she’s not yet ready for a title shot at this time. Unfortunately for Namajunas, neither is anyone else and she’s going to be offered the next shot. If she’s cagy, she’ll beg to fight on the July 8 card underneath Jędrzejczyk’s title fight with Claudio Gadelha so that she can get another fight under her belt before Zuffa thrusts her into a role for which she may not be equipped to handle. More fights can never be a bad thing when you’re in this position. A #1 contenders fight with Karolina Kowalkiewicz (after she dispatches Heather Jo Clark) would make all the sense in the world (even though there’s no way that fight would happen on July 8. Kowalkiewicz should be ready by mid to late August, and Namajunas could use that extended time off to refocus her mental game). That’s how I’d handle it.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think she’s a win away, but giving her the next title shot would also be fine. Things are bunched up in the division so Namajunas is as good of a choice as anyone. No one in the division has a better case for a title shot, so you go with her. It would be a good and exciting fight as well. It’s close but I think you go with Namajunas
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I would have thought she would be getting a title shot up until Dana White’s recent comments about her needing another win or two coupled with Namajunas’ own desires to take a break. I can’t say it isn’t all that surprising that Uncle Dana doesn’t want to give her another title fight less than two years after she participated in the inaugural women’s strawweight title fight, especially after participating in such a close decision with Torres. I don’t think there is anyone more deserving than her once Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha settle their score, but I’m not going to scream injustice if she doesn’t get the next opportunity either. In fact, I think it would be in her best interest not to give her a title shot right now as she sounds burned out right now. You don’t want her going into a title fight without any sort of enthusiasm for it.
It sounds like Namajunas just needs to take a break for now and find her love for fighting again before she is put back into the title picture. That could be a bit of a concern as she is only 23. How will she feel when she is 30 with seven more years of fighting under her belt? If she comes back rejuvenated, I could see her getting a tuneup fight like Jessica Penne if Penne is able to get past Jessica Andrade come June. I’ve heard others mention Michelle Waterson’s name and I’m fine with that, provided Waterson can win one more bout in the interim. I don’t think a victory over Angela Magana warrants a fight with a top contender.
The only problem with giving Namajunas a break is that there is no other clear choice for who has next. If Gadelha wins they could very well do a rubber match between her and Jedrzejczyk which would allow the rest of the division plenty of time to sort out another contender or give Namajunas the time off she needs. Hard to say what to do here.
[Photo (c) Troy Taormina via USA Today Sports]
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