Not only is women’s strawweight contender ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas ready to face champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk in her very next fight, she also possesses the tools and mindset required to dethrone the undefeated Polish maestro.
That’s the view of Trevor Wittman, Namajunas’ coach, whose admiration for Jędrzejczyk is equalled only by his belief that he holds the reins to the challenger capable of becoming her kryptonite.
“I will give the utmost respect to Joanna,” Wittman told Fighters Only on Tuesday. “Joanna is the best pound-for-pound woman out there at the moment, outside of Rose. I love how composed she is mentally and how she executes strategy.
“But I do feel the time is now and, no matter how the fight goes, we will learn so much. Also, Rose, when she’s on point, doesn’t take damage. I would worry if we were not defensively in good shape, but Rose is a very good positional fighter. She fights on the outside and doesn’t take damage. When she forces things, and puts herself off balance, that’s when she gets caught with shots. I don’t worry so much about Joanna’s offence or how she consistently beats people up, though. I don’t think she’d be able to hit Rose as easily as she hits everybody else. And Rose would really confuse her with her footwork.
“I look forward to the opportunity if they give that to us. I think we’re ready. If it doesn’t happen, I’m okay with that, too. We wouldn’t say ‘no’ to a couple more fights just to sharpen her mind.”
A fight between Jędrzejczyk and Namajunas is being floated for a couple of reasons. One, it makes sense because Namajunas scored an impressive breakout win over Michelle Waterson in April and has the kind of personality and intensity to lift the contest beyond the realm of just-another-title-defence. But, two, and more importantly, it’s being considered because Jędrzejczyk is fast running out of challengers against whom she can defend a title she’s held since March 2015.
Wittman is aware of all this. He is also acutely aware of the fact his fighter is still just 24 years of age and therefore blessed with time on her side.
That said, should the fight get offered – and he’s hopeful this will happen – it’s one fighter and coach will grab with both hands.
“At this stage in her career, given also how the UFC works, I don’t think it’s something we turn down or say ‘no’ to,” said Wittman. “I don’t think it’s an experience we want to pass on. I think she’s ready. If she goes out there with the right mindset, I believe she can win that fight.
“Rose is 100% focusing on this fight and that’s where my confidence comes from. When she has something to look forward to and get her competitive, it brings the best out of her. She needs those get-up fights. I think given where Joanna is right now, and how everybody looks at her, it’s a no-lose situation in Rose’s mind. She wants to challenge herself and take that gold away from Joanna.”