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Rose Namajunas credits Joanna Jedrzejczyk with finding holes in Zhang Weili’s game

That head kick that knocked out Zhang Weili at UFC 261 wasn’t a fluke, but a weapon Namajunas honed after seeing Zhang fight Jedrzejczyk.

UFC 261: Usman v Masvidal 2 Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Rose Namajunas returned to top form at UFC 261, defeating odds on favorite Zhang Weili in the first round with a picture perfect head kick that knocked out the Chinese champ (watch the highlights here).

Now Rose has the women’s strawweight title — and the distinction of being the first woman to ever win a UFC title back after losing it. Things are good, and Rose Namajunas was clearly feeling good following the win.

“I have been seeing the left high kick in my head just because I watched her fight with Joanna and she’s kind of open for that,” Namajunas explained to Megan Olivi. “But that wasn’t the way that I seen the finish in the fight. I seen this fight going many different ways, some bad, some good. And I just had to have faith.”

“I just had to get my range and just had to get patient. She was feeling confident cuz she was touching me with the inside low kick and the jab. Her jab was a nice lil jab she stuck in there. But I think it just helped me get my range and I just controlled my breathing and everything. I was prepared to go for all 25 minutes so I just stayed calm.”

As for Zhang’s reaction to the loss — she spent the entire time following the finish insisting she hadn’t been knocked unconscious — Namajunas was pretty understanding.

“I wasn’t upset about that,” Rose said. “I was more upset for her because I know she worked really hard and she’s very determined. And I know that I had to be just as determined to take this from her. So it really sucked, not that it was a bad stoppage, just that she was really upset that everything kind of turned upside down in that moment.”

As for what’s next, Namajunas seemed pretty open to a variety of options, from rematches with Zhang Weili or Joanna Jedrzejczyk to fighting the winner of Yan Xioanan vs. Carla Esparza. But the ball is definitely in her court.

“I could probably do whatever I want right now,” she said at the post-fight press conference with a smile. “It’s just a matter of what seems appealing to me in the moment. So I think I just kind of have to let things settle for a bit.”

“I would like to get back in there and stay a little more active. I just had to get some things mentally in a row, and physically cuz I had the nose surgery. But you know, hopefully we’ll see. We gotta go back to the drawing board and do some different things. I want to do some kind of environmentalist project, so I’m going to plan it out but hopefully sooner rather than later!”

“I know there are some things on the horizon, like in May an Earthship build that I was looking at participating in,” she said. “But we’ll see what the best route of action is moving forward.”

Earthships are a type of sustainable housing built using recycled materials and Namajunas has been involved in building several, most notably during a trip to Indonesia in 2016 that was documented via YouTube diaries.

“I want to produce fruit with this seed that I’ve been given,” she said. “I just want to give back and I think that’s going to be the main focus right now.”

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