This weekend’s trio of UFC events kicks off on Thursday with UFC Fight Night 80, which features a highly-anticipated showdown between young strawweight contenders Paige VanZant and “Thug” Rose Namajunas.
We can go ahead and erase any notion that VanZant is being protected and the UFC is piloting her career to the Promised Land. There are far less dangerous opponents the promotion could have handed its 21-year-old star than Namajunas, who didn’t get the nickname thug out of a Cosmopolitan magazine.
The TUF 20 runner-up is a budding Swiss army knife of technical brilliance coupled with a mean streak once the cage door closes. Flying armbars, front kicks, spinning kicks, jumping switch kicks — Namajunas’ fights serve as good popcorn entertainment every time out. Her no-nonsense approach to a sports world that sometimes holds looks and body image in women’s MMA to an even greater degree than fighting is refreshing.
She recently chopped off all of her hair in hopes of redirecting focus for her first UFC main event fight. During her media workout, per MMAjunkie.com, Namajunas reminded fans that her fight against VanZant wasn’t a beauty pageant:
“That’s part of the reason I cut it off, too, just to ask the question, why does anybody care? But that’s just the way society is nowadays. They focus on really weird things. …That was directed at anybody that thinks it’s a beauty pageant. Obviously, nobody actually thinks that, but I think some people get a little distracted and focus on things other than just the fight.”
Namajunas claimed her comments weren’t indirectly aimed at VanZant, whose looks often supersede her superb fighting skills in the public eye. However, educated fans know exactly how tough and talented VanZant has become. Her suffocating fighting style has propelled her to three consecutive, lopsided wins in the UFC over Felice Herrig, Alex Chambers and Kailin Curran.
“I don’t believe that [the UFC is giving me preferential treatment]. I’m 3-0 in the UFC for a reason, and I’m going to continue to prove myself,” said VanZant, when appearing on an episode of UFC Tonight.
All 24 fighters competing on the UFC Fight Night 80 card stepped onto the scale at the official weigh-ins on Wednesday to clear the final hurdle for the event. Both VanZant (115,5) and Namajunas (115.5) hit their target mark.
Overnight sensation Sage Northcutt will also be in action. The 19-year-old karate and kickboxing prodigy extending his professional MMA record to 6-0 earning 57-second TKO win over Francisco Trevino in his UFC debut. He hopes to keep the massive hype train rolling when he steps into the cage against Cody Pfister on Thursday night.
The video stream and full results from Wednesday’s weigh-ins are posted below.
Main card (UFC Fight Pass at 10 p.m. ET)
Rose Namajunas (115.5) vs. Paige VanZant (115.5)
Jim Miller (155.5) vs. Michael Chiesa (156)
Sage Northcutt (155.5) vs. Cody Pfister (156)
Elias Theodorou (185) vs. Thiago Santos (185)
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass at 6:45 p.m. ET)
Tim Means (170) vs. John Howard (170)
Omari Akhmedov (170) vs. Sergio Moraes (171)
Antonio Carlos Junior (185) vs. Kevin Casey (185)
Aljamain Sterling (135) vs. Johnny Eduardo (135)
Santiago Ponzinibbio (170) vs. Andreas Stahl (171)
Danny Roberts (169.5) vs. Nathan Coy (170)
Zubaira Tukhugov (145) vs. Phillipe Nover (145)
Kailin Curran (115) vs. Emily Kagan (115)