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UFC Paris, The Morning After: Flyweight is no place for Rose Namajunas

After coming up considerably short in her women’s Flyweight debut yesterday afternoon (Sat., Sept. 2, 2023) at UFC Paris live on ESPN+ from inside Accor Arena in Paris, France, it may be time for Rose Namajunas to think about a drop back down to 115 pounds.

Namajunas — who is one of the most recognizable female fighters in the sport today — decided to pack on some extra muscle and move up to 125 pounds following her lackluster performance against Carla Esparza at UFC 274 back in May 2022. Not only did Namajunas lose her title to Esparza, but she hurt her overall UFC stock with one of the worst title fight performances in recent memory.

In other words, Namajunas needed to reinvent herself and thought a move up to a bigger weight class was going to do the trick. Unfortunately, “Thug” was met by a French “Beast” and turned away at the door.

As if the promotion was punishing Namajunas for stepping away from the women’s Strawweight division, it pinned her up against French powerhouse, Manon Fiorot, in her 125-pound debut Saturday afternoon. UFC gave Namajunas a chance to make a big splash in a co-main event spot, but it was clear from the opening bell that the former women’s Strawweight champion was outmatched.

Fiorot — who brought a perfect (5-0) UFC record into her UFC Paris showdown with Namajunas — was simply too big and too strong for “Thug.” Namajunas was unable to utilize her strong grappling game and clinch work because she either couldn’t get a takedown or keep her hands wrapped around Fiorot. This allowed Fiorot the opportunity to keep Namajunas on the feet and pick her apart from range. At no point was Fiorot in trouble or overmatched by the former champion.

Namajunas wasn’t completely washed out, but it was clear she was in over her head. Her body seemed to respond well to the weight gain, yet she still looked physically outmatched inside of the Octagon. Namajunas has even had some struggles matching the physicality of former Strawweight contenders, so it made Fiorot’s advantages at UFC Paris even more glaring.

It’s hard to say what Namajunas is going to do now after losing her Flyweight debut and second-straight trip to the Octagon, but it would be wise to entertain a drop back down to 115 pounds. That is Namajunas’ natural weight class and a division full of exciting matchups. Even after her disappointing performance against Esparza last year, “Thug” still has a home at Strawweight and should go back to what she knows best.


For complete UFC Paris results, coverage and highlights click HERE.

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