Rose Namajunas’ coach and fiance Pat Barry has insisted that “Thug Rose” executed a ‘perfect’ gameplan in her strawweight title loss to Carla Esparza.
Namajunas was submitted by Esparza in 2014 and also lost the Americans’ rematch at UFC 274 last week, suffering a decision defeat after a slow, uneventful fight.
The result saw Namajunas lose the strawweight belt for the second time in her career, while Esparza – the division’s first champion – became a two-time title holder.
“We have Carla memorized, man,” Barry said on The MMA Hour. “We know everything that she’s going to do before she does it. We know what it looks like, we know when to avoid, when to attack. This is a strategic, perfect gameplan.
“And just so everyone knows, we went in there for the win. The plan was to win the fight. The plan was to do this thing in particular, and if you do this thing, people are going to start booing – but that’s only because they don’t know what’s going on. And when they do start booing, Carla is going to open up, and when she does: Bam, there it is. That’s the game.”
Ultimately neither fighter opened up in terms of striking, but Esparza did score a couple of takedowns – though she struggled to do much with them.
Barry, who works alongside Namajunas’ head coach Trevor Wittman, also suggested that the mat was slippery and proved problematic.
“In the fight, [Namajunas] did everything perfect, bro, perfect,” Barry said. “I love UFC and everything they do, but this is – out of all the fights I’ve ever had, even back in my career – the slipperiest canvas you can ever fight on. Which, at that moment when she had the opening for the kill the second time, when she went for it and that foot slipped, I had a moment of clarity, man.
“I don’t know, just all of a sudden I went from this crazy [demeanour] to completely just calm. ‘Apparently the world is trying to make this very difficult for you [Namajunas]. Apparently something is going on.’ Because of course, Rose and her spirituality… we look at things, so I have to think a certain way because she thinks a certain way. ‘Something is trying to stop you from winning this fight.’
“As a coach, yes, we’re there to win fights, but we’re really there for longevity and happiness. That’s what my job is, man. Not only am I a coach, but as a partner, fiance, whatever you want to label me as, that’s my job: to make sure that Rose is happy, healthy and safe for the rest of her life.”