Rose Namajunas stuck to her game plan at UFC 274 this past weekend (Sat., May 7, 2022) but it still wasn’t enough to keep the Strawweight title in her possession.
Rematching arguably the best wrestler in the division, Namajunas found herself on the wrong end of a rather uneventful split decision defeat to a past successor, Carla Esparza (watch highlights). Both have received heaps of backlash for their less than action-packed tandem effort since fight night. However, the former champion Namajunas as well as her corner consisting of her fiance and former UFC Heavyweight, Pat Barry, along with Trevor Whittman have gotten the brunt of the blame.
“If you make mistakes at this level, the consequences are pretty heavy. The consequences are pretty heavy, man,” Barry said on MMA Fighting’s The MMA Hour. “So we went into this fight with a strategy. We have Carla memorized, man. We know everything that she’s going to do before she does it. We know what it looks like, we know when to avoid, when to attack. This is a strategic, perfect game plan. And just so everyone knows, we went in there for the win. The plan was to win the fight. The plan was to do this thing in particular, and if you do this thing, people are going to start booing — they are going to start booing — but that’s only because they don’t know what’s going on. And when they do start booing, Carla is going to open up — and when she does, bam, there it is. That’s the game.
“In the fight, [Namajunas] did everything perfect, bro. Perfect,” he continued. “I love the UFC and I’ve loved everything that UFC does for everyone, and I love it, I love the organization. But I will say, in the fight, there’s three moments — but there’s two in particular — where bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, here it comes, this is the time, and when Rose went to throw the punch, her foot slipped. And I saw that. I saw it. I saw her foot slide. And when it did, I know my head went crazy. … And when the opportunity for that one thing that we trained for came again and she went — foot slipped a second time.
“I love UFC and everything they do, but this is, out of all the fights I’ve ever had, even back in my career, this is the slipperiest canvas you can ever fight on,” Barry added. “Which, at that moment, when she had the opening for the kill, the second time, when she went for it and that foot slipped, I had a moment of clarity, man. I don’t know. Just all of a sudden I went from this crazy [demeanor] to completely just calm. Apparently, the world is trying to make this very difficult for you. Apparently, something is going on. Because of course Rose and her spirituality, and we look at things so I have to think a certain way because she thinks a certain way — something is trying to stop you from winning this fight.”
With his own 15-fight career well behind him at this stage, Barry (8-7), 42, is no stranger to criticism. Occupying the coaching role in 2022, he’s been forced to adapt to negative responses in a different manner and knows how to drown out any noise that may not be worth hearing, in his opinion.
“It’s fine,” Barry said of the critique. “I’m fine with [what] the world thinks of me, no matter what. Like, no matter what it’s my fault, right? ‘Pat, you shouldn’t be talking. You shouldn’t be nothing.’ I’m the closest person to her. I know what I’m looking at more than anyone else. I know what I’m looking at when I see — I know what I see when she’s in there, more than anybody. More than more than anybody, man. I’m [here] 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Like, I know what it is that I’m looking at. I know what it is that I feel. I know pretty much where Rose is at any point in time, based on her facial expression. People are going to say that, but those are the same people that I have to ask, like, what if Rose would’ve jumped in the air and started doing spin kicks and gotten taken down and crucifixed and elbowed in the face. Now what?
“That’s why what the world says about Pat doesn’t matter to Pat,” he concluded. “It doesn’t matter to Rose and that’s why it doesn’t matter to Pat. If it mattered to her, if it bothered her, what the world said, then that would probably be a thing. But it doesn’t.”
Due to the nature of the bout along with two losses to Esparza on her record, Namajunas is looking at an uphill battle to return to title contention according to UFC President Dana White. Therefore, the boss hinted that next in line to challenge Esparza could be the winner of Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2 on June 11 at UFC 275 in Singapore.
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