UFC 223 is, as they say, in the books, and after all the chaos, it turned out pretty well. Khabib Nurmagomedov got the lopsided win he was supposed to get, albiet while opting not to wrestle at all in the middle rounds; fellow Dagestani featherweight prospect Zabit Magomedsharipov outclassed Kyle Bochniak in a compelling Fight of the Night, and in the co-main event, Joanna Jedrzejczyk came in improved and re-invigorated, but still couldn’t snatch the title back from a calm, cool, and collected Rose Namajunas.
It was an extremely close, well-matched fight, one which earned the plaudits of the woman who trailblazed women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) in the UFC, Ronda Rousey. Now a professional wrestler after suffering two knockout losses in the Octagon, Rousey is proud that the women carrying the torch are doing the sport credit.
So proud of @joannamma and @rosenamajunas fighting their hearts out and representing all women and all fighters tonight ❤️ @UFC is lucky to have you both— Ronda Rousey (@RondaRousey) April 8, 2018
Despite unsavory pre-fight intimidation tactics before their first bout, Joanna Jedrzejczyk was respectful during the rematch, and Rose Namajunas is famous for her message of positivity and her insistence on being respectful and real rather than manufacturing trash talk. As she said after first winning the belt back in November of 2017:
In mixed martial arts, there’s just been a lot of trash talking. People aren’t really being true to themselves or honest,” said Rose during the post-fight press conference. “Maybe that’s just what they feel they need to do to entertain, but I’m kind of sick of it. I’m sick of all the hate and anger. I feel like we have a duty as fighters to try and be a better example,” she added.
“Martial arts is about honor and respect. You know? It takes a lot of courage to get in that cage no matter who you are. So I just want to try and set an example in that way. Just with the rest of the world, too. I think there’s a lot of negativity everywhere you look. It’s just negativity all the time. I’m just trying to be that positive light as much as possible. I’m not perfect, either. But maybe we’ll figure out how to make this world a better place,
Somewhat in contrast to Rousey herself, who built a tough girl image by continuous trash talk and stoking the ire against her opponents, Rose is a champion that is hard to dislike. Her backstory as a girl who overcame psychological hurdles as a fighter after enduring rough times in her life as a person is a compelling one, and Rousey is right that the UFC is lucky to have her as champion.