Hype or Die: The Return of Thug Rose


Written by @NickRiznerMMA

Hype is a fickle thing.

There one minute; gone the next. Its source can be pondered, but never proved. Its effect can be a blessing or a curse. It can serve as the most valuable asset of a fighter’s career when wielded correctly, but can just as easily bury those who misuse it.

Rose Namajunas is the embodiment of hype. What she does with this tool is entirely up to her. Will she boom or bust? Climb or crumble? Meet the expectations laid out before her or fall short of her perceived potential?

As a member of TUF 20, “Thug Rose” quickly emerged as the season stand-out. Three fights. Three submissions. A ‘Performance of the Season’ bonus. A ‘Fight of the Season’ bonus. And even a comparison to Ronda Rousey from the president, himself. All on her way to a tournament final, with a UFC belt on the line.

Entering the title fight against Carla Esparza, oddsmakers had Rose as a slight favorite; shocking when you consider Esparza’s extensive experience and championship résumé.

And yet, thus is the nature of hype. To pull the wool over the eyes of otherwise reasonable minds. To replace logic with emotion. And we all bought in.

But eventually, reality manifested itself. Esparza implemented her wrestling. She dominated and overwhelmed Namajunas. And with relative ease, she was named the inaugural UFC Strawweight Champion.

This was back in December of 2014; the last time we saw Rose Namajunas in the Octagon. She was, at one point, scheduled to face Nina Ansaroff, but the fight was cancelled when Nina was forced to pull out due to illness. Now, a new challenge awaits, and with it, the promise of redemption.

It starts on October 3rd. It begins with Angela Hill.

When evaluating a fighter’s future, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Rose is only 23 years old. She’s only had four professional fights and only one under the UFC banner. To expect her to look like a fully evolved fighter at this point in her career, would be to dismiss the value of in-cage experience.

What she does have, however, is a slew of intangibles. Heart. Aggression. Instinct. Talent. If the right mentality and motivation are applied, the skillset will surely follow. A champion will be born.

So the question remains. Will the hype behind Rose Namajunas push her towards great heights? Or will it drive her into obscurity? In the end, only time will tell. Alas, remember this one thing above all else.

Hype is a fickle thing.

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