Rose Namajunas’ signature look was born out of a desire to avoid getting into a ‘beauty pageant’ with Paige VanZant.
Namajunas and VanZant were two of the most exciting prospects in the UFC’s strawweight division when they headlined an event in Las Vegas eight years ago.
Ahead of their fight, ‘Thug’ shocked fans when she shaved off her long blond hair and shared a picture to social media that showed she was now sporting a buzz cut.
“It’s a fight, not a beauty pageant,” Namajunas captioned the post.
“S***’s in my way at practice… Cut it off!”
Later, the 31-year-old insisted that her comment was not meant to be a dig at VanZant who had become popular with UFC fans for her looks as much as her performances.
“There was a lot of backlash for Paige, and people took it out of context as if that was a slam on her,” Namajunas told UFC.com.
“It’s not like that. But I do feel like it is somewhat of a statement.
“Why not do it to keep the focus on the fight so I don’t have to worry about training, then rinsing off and washing my hair, then drying it off, making it all pretty, doing my makeup, then getting ready for interviews and pictures and then having to go back to training and putting it back up.
“I just want to focus on the fight and figuratively and literally cut out as much as I can.
“Society expects women to be pretty and play that certain role, but I think we put that pressure on ourselves as well as female fighters, especially if we’re what society considers attractive.
“We have that pressure to use that to our advantage, but for me, that’s only going to help you in other avenues. I want to get as many advantages as possible in fighting itself. I don’t want to spread myself too thin.”
Several years after scoring a fifth-round submission win over VanZant, Namajunas is a bonified UFC legend after twice capturing the 115lb title and beating Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Andrade, and Weili Zhang.
Namajunas lost her belt last time out against Carla Esparza and is now gearing up for a run at the flyweight championship currently held by Alexa Grasso.
The Lithuanian-American will square off against top contender Manon Fiorot when she makes her divisional debut at UFC Paris on Saturday night.
While Namajunas continues to pursue glory in MMA’s best league, VanZant’s career has taken a much different path since their 2015 clash.
’12 Gauge’ lost three more fights before leaving the UFC in 2020 and signing a deal that saw her earn $400,000 per fight with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.
The 29-year-old hasn’t fought in any capacity since 2021 when she discovered OnlyFans and made more money in 24 hours on the subscription site than she did in her entire combat sports career.
It remains to be seen if VanZant will ever return to fighting.