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TUF 20 preview: Is Rose Namajunas truly the next Ronda Rousey in UFC?

You have heard it time and again, UFC president Dana White makes an outlandish statement that is almost certainly 99-percent promotion and 1-percent truth. Many of these statements during White's tenure have come prior to The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) seasons, predicting average fighters to become the next big thing in the sport of MMA. TUF 20 was no different, as White predicted finalist Rose Namajunas to become the "next Ronda Rousey". With her upcoming title fight just one day away, could White's bold prediction come to fruition?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Dana White has never been one to mince words, and that often comes with a hefty price. With fight fans and pundits alike growing tired of the monotonous The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) series, White has made increasingly bold statements over the last 20 seasons in order to draw viewers.

Whether White promised the nastiest knockout in MMA history, or swore that the next great champion was on the show, the UFC president hardly pulled punches when discussing the series over the last several years.

Let's take a trip back to 2008, prior to TUF 8 airing on Spike TV, when White made a shocking claim that one of the cast members could be "the next Anderson Silva". As if that was not already bold enough, White went so far to say that this contestant reminded him of Georges St-Pierre as well. Of course by now you know the man White compared to arguably the two greatest mixed martial artists of all time is none other than Phillipe Nover.

Nover has a record of 9-5-1, including three losses in UFC ... hardly anything resembling St-Pierre or Silva.

While it was quickly apparent Nover would never amount to the hype he received from White, it would not stop the UFC president from making more preposterous claims in the future.

During TUF 17, Uriah Hall sent Adam Cella to oblivion with arguably the most brutal knockout in MMA history. After the finish, White coined Hall as "the most dangerous" fighter in TUF history (the same show that brought future champions Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, and TJ Dillashaw into UFC). Of course, Hall went on to lose to Kelvin Gastelum at the TUF Finale, and became victim of some brash words from White himself after the fact.

Even though Hall may have not lived up to the hype thrust upon him by White and his peers, the UFC middleweight is currently 2-2 inside the Octagon, and is moving in the right direction at this point in his career.

Now we turn to present day, as TUF 20 wrapped up last Wednesday. White's pre-season bold prediction still has the chance to come to fruition. In yet another classic hyperbole from the president, he noted there was a contestant on the show who could become the next Ronda Rousey.

With the finals set between former Invicta champion Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas, it has been revealed that White was speaking about none other than "Thug Rose".

With three straight submission victories on the show against tough competition, Namajunas is looking like White's strongest prediction yet. Then again, the top strawweight still has one more fight before she can be crowned the first-ever 115-pound champion in UFC history.

If Namajunas does get past the tough Esparza on Friday night, she could very well explode in popularity in similar fashion to Rousey before her. However, if Namajunas is to truly be the strawweight version of Rousey, she will need to be a dominant champion.

Not only is Rousey the UFC champion, but she is nearly invincible. In four UFC fights, Rousey has torched her competition en route to fantastic finishes leaving fans and pundits alike in awe. In her last two Octagon appearances, Rousey knocked out former Olympian Sara McMann, and utterly destroyed top contender Alexis Davis. It only took her one minute and 22 seconds of total cage time to dispatch of both women.

Comparing Namajunas, who has only three professional fights, to the undefeated former Olympian in Rousey, is obviously a stretch, but if anyone can make White seem like a clairvoyant, you can bet it will be "Thug Rose".

During media day for the TUF 20 finale earlier this week, Rose was asked by Sherdog whether or not she knew that White was referring to her when he made the Rousey prediction prior to the show airing. In typical Rose fashion, she noted "Oh I'm nasty...Ya, it's me. I knew he was talking about me at first, but it was confirmed by him (too)."

Even Rousey herself picked Namajunas to win the strawweight title, noting that she is "something special".

With the hype train in full force, can Namajunas carefully and violently traverse the course en route to the UFC title on Friday night? Will Namajunas conquer where Nover, Hall, and so many others faltered? If so, fans could be in for a wild ride as the metaphoric train is just picking up speed.

To see who else is fighting at tonight's TUF 20 finale, click here.

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