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UFC 223: Rose Namajunas shaken up by altercation but should be ready to go for fight night

UFC women's strawweight champion Rose Namajuna, left, poses

UFC women's strawweight champion Rose Namajuna, left, poses for a photograph with upcoming opponent Joanna Jedrzejczyk, during UFC 223's media day at the Barclays Center Thursday. Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

UFC 223 is proving to be one of the more chaotic events in the promotion’s 25-year history.

A late change to the main event and a raucous news conference would have been enough, but Conor McGregor’s crashing of media day only amplified the disorder.

Rose Namajunas, however, won’t let the mayhem keep her from defending her title.

The strawweight champ nearly was hit during the incident involving McGregor, which left lightweight Michael Chiesa with cuts to his face, according to Dana White. The UFC president told reporters Namajunas was shaken up by the altercation and left Barclays Center on foot, walking over a mile back to the fighter hotel. Namajunas will remain on the fight card against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, according to a report by MMAFighting.com.

“She’s super upset right now and basically left and walked back to the hotel,” White told reporters.

Until this point, Namajunas had been one of the few calming influences on the fight card, iterating her intention to keep her attention on the fight in the cage and stay away from the noise outside it.

“It’s easy to lose focus, so my goal is to stay focused regardless,” Namajunas said Thursday shortly before the McGregor fiasco. “Anybody can be dangerous at any moment. The minute you start to slip or start thinking things you don’t need to be thinking, that’s when something can happen, so I just need to stay focus.”

During Wednesday’s wild news conference, she stayed mostly silent and stoic throughout, appearing to be in a meditative state.

“Yeah I said the Lord’s Prayer and focused on my breathing and just making sure I’m not elevating my heart rate too high,” Namajunas said. “I started doing this when I fought Paige Van Zant, that’s when I really started practicing breathing techniques a lot and ever since then it’s worked really well. Obviously I haven’t had flawless performances since then but it’s definitely been a huge part of my training, the mental, physical and spiritual.”

Namajunas said she learned from Ronda Rousey that there are three types of champions in the UFC — the capitalist champion, the legacy champion and the Buddhist champion. She clearly falls into that final category.

“I feel like I’m more of the Buddhist champion. The capitalist is somebody who wants to make as much money as they can. The legacy one is somebody who defends their title many, many times and wants to put a stamp on it and be pound-for-pound best.” Namajunas said. “I feel like I’m more in the present moment and just enjoying every moment for what it is and keep doing my thing regardless of whether this belt is here or not.”

That belt is a nice touch, but Namajunas is adamant that she’d still be “Thug Rose” without it.

“I am the champ, I am the best in the world,” Namajunas said with a satisfied laugh. “It’s awesome, it’s a great feeling. But like I’ve said, it doesn’t define me, but it’s an accomplishment. It’s a testament to all the 25 years of hard work that I’ve done.”

Namajunas knows there’s more to life than her championship, but she’d still like to hold on to it and have her hand raised Saturday night. She said she’s not committing to any strategy in the cage and will take the fight as it comes to her.

“I think expectations set you up for disappointment,” she said. “I try not to expect too much. Of course, I like to play with possibilities and I visualize certain things and let certain visuals come to me in my head and use logic to deduce the likelihood of certain scenarios, but I’ve just gotta trust in my training and just let it happen naturally.”

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