To watch full video highlights of Namajunas' submission over VanZant CLICK HERE.
The Paige VanZant (6-2) hype train has been building up quite a head of steam over the last few months, but late last night (Thurs., Dec., 10, 2015) Rose Namajunas (4-2) halted it dead in its tracks.
Namajunas, 23, defeated VanZant with a rear-naked choke submission at UFC Fight Night 80 at "The Chelsea" at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada, in what was an absolutely dominant performance. "Thug Rose" took the fight on short notice, filling in for the injured Joanne Calderwood, and still shined.
Namajunas, who was one step ahead of VanZant all night, had the 21-year-old rising star on the defensive for the entire 25 minutes, using excellent striking, takedowns and submission attempts. She nearly finished the fight in the third and fourth rounds and finally ended the fight in the final frame with her fifth submission attempt.
The official time came at 2:25 of the fifth and final round.
Namajunas had success with her striking early on in the first round and secured a body lock before taking VanZant to the mat. Namajunas passed to side control and rained down a few big strikes--one which opened a cut on VanZant's right cheek. "12 Gauge" made it back up to her feet, but Namajunas continued to land combinations.
The No.7-ranked women's strawweight was able to land a head and arm takedown, but Namajunas expertly transitioned to her back. However, the former strawweight title contender could not secure a submission. VanZant made it to her feet only to be dragged back down again by Namajunas, who continued to land some nasty ground and pound for the remainder of the round.
In the second, the Milwaukee, WI native landed a takedown early on after defending one of VanZant's. When VanZant made it back to her feet, she got pulled back down by Namajunas, which became the pattern of the round. When the two were standing, the No.3-ranked women's strawweight remained a step ahead of VanZant and landed crisp and effective strikes in each exchange.
Namajunas took VanZant right away to start the third round. VanZant got back to her feet, but Namajunas continued to pick her apart and easily circled away from VanZant's aggression. Namajunas landed yet another takedown with just under two minutes left landed more short elbows on VanZant, whose face turned into a bloody mess. "Thug" dropped back with a tight rear-naked choke and it looked to be the beginning of the end as her arm was underneath the chin of VanZant, but somehow VanZant fought off being submitted and survived the round.
Namajunas locked up a pair of armbars on separate occasions in the fourth and both times it looked like it could be the end of the fight, but VanZant managed to escape both submission attempts.
In the final round, Namajunas took VanZant down again and her fifth submission attempt ended up being the charm, and the one that ended the fight. Namajunas locked it up deep, forcing VanZant to tap soon after.
Outstanding performance by Namajunas, who put on a technical clinic and did anything she wanted the entire fight before finishing VanZant in the final round. With this performance she has likely earned a "performance bonus" and a shot at Joanna Jedrzejczyk's strawweight title.
Horrible loss for VanZant, who got absolutely dominated throughout the contest. That being said, she did show tremendous courage, resiliency and toughness. She is still young and has a very high ceiling.
For complete UFC Fight Night 80: "Namajunas vs. VanZant" results, including play-by-play, click here.