Former UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas made some interesting comments regarding the political beliefs of current UFC strawweight queen Weili Zhang ahead of their fight at UFC 261.
Namajunas was speaking with LRT's Martynas Nesavas ahead of her co-main event title fight against the Chinese champion on April 24 and talked about while she never really feels any animosity towards her opponents going into fights, she believes there's some extra motivation against Zhang because of what she represents in the Lithuanian-Americans eyes.
“The animosity and things like that, those can be very motivating factors in short moments. But in all actuality going into the fight, maybe there was certain rivalries and things like that, but I always kept myself in control,” Namajunas said (h/t MMAJunkie). “I never really hated the person – and I don’t hate Weili or anything like that. There’s nothing … but I do feel as though I have a lot to fight for in this fight and what she represents.”
The former UFC strawweight queen who is the child of Lithuanian immigrants and whose great grandfather was murdered by the Soviets used the phrase "better dead than red" to describe Zhang's political beliefs. The term's origins date back to the 1950s as a creed or declaration for anti-communism.
“I was just kind of reminding myself of my background and everywhere that I come from and my family and everything like that, and I kind of wanted to educate my training partner on the Lithuanian struggle and just the history of it all, so we watched (2012 documentary film) The Other Dream Team just to kind of get an overall sentiment of what we fight for,” she said. “After watching that, it was just a huge reminder of like, yeah, it’s better dead than red, you know? And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Weili is red. That’s what she represents. It’s nothing personal against her, but that’s a huge motivating factor of why I fight, and I fight for freedom,” said Namajunas, who’s looking to win the 115-pound title for a second time. “I’ve got the Christ consciousness, I’ve got Lithuanian blood, and I’ve got the American dream. All of those things I’m taking with me into the fight.”