Rose Namajunas details surreal nightmares that plagued her before UFC Vegas 89 win


Rose Namajunas has a UFC career most fighters would dream of, but the lead-up to her most recent outing was literally the stuff of nightmares.

“Thug Rose” scored an important win this past Saturday at UFC Vegas 89, outpointing Amanda Ribas in the main event to snap the first losing streak of her career and score her first win at 125 pounds. The former strawweight champion was on a two-fight skid dating back to November 2021, and she admitted the unfamiliar situation caused her considerable stress.

That stress manifested itself in the form of troubling dreams, which Namajunas discussed on The MMA Hour. In these dreams, Namajunas pictured herself losing a trio of bouts under bizarre circumstances, including a last-second switch that saw her facing a male opponent instead of Ribas.

“Leading up to the fight, too, I have really vivid dreams a lot of the time,” Namajunas said. “Sometimes I’ll be able to visualize the fight, and for this one, I never had this happen before, but I literally saw in my dreams I lost the fight three times.

“The first two times, there was unfair circumstances. One, I got robbed, and then the first time it was like — this sounds crazy, but I was supposed to go fight her and then at the last second they switched it to a dude. So I had to fight a dude and then I was getting beat up, and then all of a sudden I ended up falling into a rear-naked choke and finishing the person, but they still gave it to them. So that was weird. I was like, that doesn’t make any sense.

“The third dream that I had — nightmare, I should say — I had the feeling that I lost but I don’t remember what happened in the fight and I was just trying to piece it together. It was just that post-loss feeling in the locker room, where it just sucks. I was like, ‘Did I get knocked out? Did I get choked out? What happened?’ So that was weighing on me a bunch leading into it. I feel like I’ve got divine visions in my dreams a lot of the time, but I’ve also had spiritual attacks in my dreams too, so I had to discern what was real and what wasn’t. I had to keep telling myself, ‘That has no bearing. I’m just going to do it anyways and it has no bearing on the outcome.’”

According to Namajunas, the dreams started about a month before the Ribas fight and continued on a weekly basis. It got to the point that she wondered if the universe was giving her some sort of warning or perhaps even telling her not to step into the cage.

Fortunately for Namajunas, she’s had experience with vivid, fight-related dreams, including ahead of her first championship fight with Zhang Weili at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Fla. Namajunas defeated Zhang via a spectacular head kick in the first round to become a two-time strawweight champion.

“I believe in spiritual warfare and battles, and I believe that I’m here to let my light shine,” Namajunas said. “So there’s been lots of forces to me that I feel like I’m fighting something that’s not just my opponent, like it’s beyond our capability of understanding. I just feel like that was just an attack, because I’ve been making so many changes in my real life and I’ve been really disciplined, and I haven’t been doing anything dumb or anything like that, and I’ve been really in control of myself, that now it’s like, maybe I’m susceptible in my dreams. I don’t know. That’s just my way of interpreting it, I guess.

“Leading up to the first Weili fight, I had a dream that I was walking around. It was the week of the fight, we were walking around wherever we were fighting and somebody walked up to me and stopped me and he was like, ‘Hey, don’t have this fight.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ I got so scared. I was like, ‘Why? Something bad’s going to happen?’ And they were like, ‘I don’t know. Just don’t have this fight.’ And then all of a sudden [Namajunas’ fiancé and coach Pat Barry] got in the way and he was like, ‘Don’t talk to her. Get away from her,’ and just kind of like pushed them away. Then I woke up.

“So that had me worried leading up to that fight, to where it really motivated me because I was like, ‘I’m going to have this fight anyways.’ It really motivated me to make sure I’m ready 100 percent. It just had me on my toes more, so I think that’s kind of how I interpreted the dreams as like, maybe I’m going to do it anyways, I’m just going to make sure I’m ready.”

Namajunas spoke to Barry, her coaches, her team, and close friends about the dreams, which helped her to process them in her mind, which was important as she sought to avoid an unprecedented third straight loss and an 0-2 mark in her new weight class.

Defeating Ribas went a long way toward putting Namajunas back on track, both in the eyes of the matchmakers and herself, and she’s already targeting another pair of ranked opponents. With flyweight champion Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko occupied for the foreseeable future as they prepare for a trilogy bout after serving as coaches on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, Namajunas is back in the mix among potential challengers for the winner of that grudge match.

“I’ve always believed in myself, I know who I am, but sometimes you just doubt,” Namajunas said. “I was definitely doubting. So now I feel like I have my confidence back and I feel like now I can build off of whatever it is that I did. I’m very excited to start making plans for the future, for whatever’s next. I’m definitely going to be watching the girls [in the main event of UFC Atlantic City] this weekend, Manon [Fiorot] and Erin [Blanchfield]. I’m excited.”


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