Photo Essay: Rose Namajunas Training Before UFC 223
All photographs by Reto Sterchi


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Photo Essay: Rose Namajunas Training Before UFC 223

After stunning Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 last November, Namajunas looks to defend her strawweight title in Brooklyn at UFC 223 on Saturday.

On November 4, 2017, Rose Namajunas shocked the MMA world when she dropped Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the first round of their strawweight title bout at UFC 217. She was given next to no chance of winning but confounded the champ with her convincing feinting ability. As our own Jack Slack summed up in the aftermath:

The difference between meat-and-potatoes striking and clever striking isn't in the few different arcs the fighter's hands and feet can traverse; it is the stuff that comes between the strikes. The previous challengers for Jedrzejczyk's crown were open books, where Namajunas was deceptive. Namajunas managed to put Jedrzejczyk on edge in a way that no one else has and dulled her reactions in the process.


On Saturday night in UFC 223's co-main event, Namajunas once again faces Jedrzejczyk, who will be looking for revenge, and more importantly, to reclaim her title. In March, VICE Sports caught up with Namajunas in Denver, Colorado for this photo essay while she prepared for the rematch at 303 Training Center.

Namajunas, a Milwaukee native, relocated to Denver to train at 303 Training Center.

Namajunas and her partner/coach and UFC Heavyweight Pat Barry warming up before her workout.

Namajunas training at her home in the Denver suburbs. Pat Barry throws tennis balls and she punches them out of the air—an unorthodox training method Barry saw in a dream—while Rose's dog Mishka gets in some exercise, too.

Namajunas doing movement exercises with her boxing coach Trevor Wittman at 303.

Wittman also trains UFC fighters Justin Gaethje and Matthew Lopez.

Having a laugh while taking a short break.

Namajunas hitting the pads with Wittman.

In her post fight interview after winning the belt, Rose said "I just want to try and use my gift of martial arts to try and make this world a better place."

No one expected Namajunas to beat Jedrzejczyk, let alone knock her out, but that's exactly what she did.

Trevor Wittman is tying Rose's boxing gloves. He says "mental strength" is her greatest asset.

The champ.

Going into UFC 217, Namajunas was the hunter. Now she is the hunted.

Studying videos. From left to right: Namajunas, training partner and UFC fighter J.J. Aldrich, boxing coach Trevor Wittman, and Jiu-Jitsu coach Tony Basile.

Some post-training love. Namajunas takes Mishka everywhere she goes.

Rose training in her backyard in the Denver suburbs. In the background one of her ice bath tubs. "She basically decides to suffer for 8 minutes," Pat Barry says.

The calm before the storm.