Rose Namajunas, Georges St-Pierre and classy acts are UFC 217 winners
Trending in the UFC of late: Making over-the-top statements when a microphone gets stuck in your face before and after a fight.
It has reached a level where the winning fighter gets judged as much or more for what he or she says rather than what they do to earn that moment.
Rose Namajunas wants to change that. Her moment to “cut a promo” as industry speak goes came Saturday night after her surprising first-round knockout of previously undefeated strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, herself a noted talker. Namajunas stayed true to her nature.
“I just want to try to use my gift of martial arts to try to make this world a better place and change the world,” Namajunas said during her in-cage interview. “This belt don’t mean nothing, man. Just be a good person, that’s it. This is extra. This is awesome, but let’s just give each other hugs and be nice, man. I mean, I know we fight, but this is entertainment.”
That wasn’t just the emotion of the moment taking over.
“Mixed martial arts, there’s just been a lot of trash talking and things like that,” Namajunas said in her post-fight news conference. “People I feel like aren’t really being true to themselves or being honest. I don’t know, maybe that’s what they feel they need to do to entertain things. But I’m just kind of sick of it. I’m sick of all the hate and anger. I feel like we have a duty as fighters to try and be a better example. Martial arts is about honor and respect. It takes a lot of courage to get in that cage, no matter who you are.”
The talk is one thing, but here’s the more important thing: what happens in that octagon matters more than a fun sound bite collecting likes and retweets in social media.
Shortly after Namajunas’ heartwarming underdog win (she was as much as +700 in some online sports books), another non-talker ascended to championship status. Georges St-Pierre, among the most respectful fighters for more than a decade, choked out Michael Bisping in the third round to become the middleweight champion.
St-Pierre had walked away from the sport four years ago as the reigning middleweight king, returning to MSG for a new challenge.
“He hurt me very hard, a few time I got stunned. I tried to hide it, but ooof. Man, I wouldn’t like to do that fight again, oh [expletive],” St-Pierre said. “I don’t want to swear on TV. Sorry about that.”
He used a choice word moments later and again apologized.
Bisping talks more trash before a fight than the keynote speaker at a sanitation workers convention. Always has. That’s his thing. But in defeat Saturday night, he exhibited class and humility.
“God bless him, it was his night tonight,” Bisping said of GSP. “Good for him. I’m not taking anything away. He did well. He did great.
“All respect to Georges. Well done. He beat me. I felt fantastic going in there tonight. I truly thought I was going to smoke him and I didn’t, so well done.”
Three championships changed hands Saturday night before 18,201 fans at MSG. Perhaps more than that will change in future nights.