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Rose Namajunas: I beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk at her own ‘mental warfare games’ prior to UFC 217 title fight

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Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Rose Namajunas vowed to not lose her title fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 before it began, and she lived up to her word, taking it to the champ from the jump en route to an impressive first round knockout victory in New York City (video highlights here). In an interesting twist, Namajunas claims she defeated her foe prior to the opening bell by beating her at her own mental warfare games by not responding to her constant trash talk and up-close-and personal staredowns.

“This was a fight of mental warfare and I beat her at her own game,” Namajunas said during a recent interview on “The MMA Hour.” “I think each time that I wasn’t give her nothing, she needs that.”

Admitting she had so many, “I know you are but what am I” and “your mama” retorts, but Namajunas says she stuck to her guns and played it cool up until fight night, which was no easy task.

“She needs someone to fire back and I wasn’t going to do that. I stuck with it. It took a lot of restrain on my end, it took a lot of control. It took a lot out of me, but I knew that’s what I had to do, that was the way to beat her was to shut her mental game down,” Namajunas explained.

In fact, during the ceremonial weigh-in staredowns (video replay here), Namajunas revealed she was reciting the Lord’s Prayer out loud while Joanna was spitting her usual verbal fire.

Game, set, match.

Now that she’s on top of the women’s Strawweight division, Namajunas is determined to be a positive champion and leave trash talking out of it, refusing to change her style just because she’s champion. And it could be a breath of fresh air the sport needs.