Rose Namajunas walked on stage Thursday at The Theater at Madison Square Garden with enough chill to freeze boiling water.
She sat zen-like for much of the UFC 217 news conference, the sixth name out of six in terms of billing, profile and questions asked.
Even at the end of the event when the fighters squared off and Joanna Jedrzejczyk put her fist in her face, Namajunas kept her pulse rate at ninja levels.
“This is what I wanted,” Namajunas said when asked a question toward the end of the half-hour news conference. “I wanted to be in the belly of the beast. I wanted it to be as scary as possible. I wanted to fight Joanna at her best, where she wanted to. This is what I wanted and this is where I’m at.”
Namajunas (7-3) will challenge the 14-0 Jedrzejczyk for her strawweight title on Saturday at MSG.
As Jedrzejczyk, Michael Bisping and Cody Garbrandt used the time on stage to sell their fight and themselves, Namajunas sat there with zero emotion on display. Such an approach is unique for a Jedrzejczyk opponent. In the past, the strawweight champion from Poland has played the mental warfare game perfectly and drawn in her opponent for the verbal ride. Namajunas’ focus has been singular.
“The fight on Saturday, that’s definitely what’s going through my head right now,” Namajunas said. “That’s all that matters.”
Jedrzejczyk will be chasing promotional history on Saturday. A win over Namajunas would tie Jedrzejczyk with Ronda Rousey for the most consecutive UFC title defenses by a female fighter with six.
“It’s more about my legacy, it’s all about staying undefeated,” Jedrzejczyk said. “It’s more important than all of these records. I will retire in the future as undefeated, I have this chance, I have this opportunity and I will make this happen.”