Rose Gertrude Namajunas (Rožė Gertrūda Namajūnaitė in Lithuanian) was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on (1992-06-29)June 29, 1992, to Lithuanian parents. She was named Rose (Lithuanian: Rožė) in honor of her great-grandmother Rožė Gotšalkaitė Namajūnienė, whose husband Juozas was an Independent Lithuania military officer. He enlisted in the Lithuanian military in 1933, and was promoted to lieutenant in 1936. During the Soviet invasion of Lithuania in 1939, he fought in the resistance. After the Soviets occupied the country, Juozas was forced to enlist in the Red Army. Following the German declaration of war on the Soviet Union and the subsequent Soviet retreat from the Baltic states, Juozas left the Red Army and retired to civilian life. When the Soviets re-occupied Lithuania, Juozas was arrested by the NKVD and sent to a prison camp. He was killed by Soviet KGB agents near his home in 1968. Namajunas's grandfather Algimantas Andriukonis was a successful wrestler, and won national championships in Lithuania and competitions in the USSR. In December 2020, it was revealed that her grandfather, who lived in Kaunas, Lithuania, had died. Namajunas regularly visits Lithuania and communicates in the Lithuanian language with her grandparents.
Her parents left Lithuania in September 1991, and Rožė Gertrūda Namajūnaitė was born in June 1992 in America. She has an older brother, Nojus.
Namajunas's father Arturas, who suffered from schizophrenia, left the family when Rose was still young and died of pneumonia in Germany in 2008, when Rose was 16. Her mother was a pianist, trained at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Namajunas grew up in Milwaukee in a tough neighborhood, where she was a witness to violence from a young age. Her mother worked a lot and her brother was only rarely home. Her neighborhood friends nicknamed her "Thug Rose", due to the fact that she was the only white girl among them and was the smallest, yet she was the toughest one in their friend group. Namajunas has admitted to being a victim of child sexual abuse, while emphasizing that she does not want to speak about specific details. She graduated from Milwaukee High School of the Arts, where she was an accomplished cross-country runner.
Namajunas began competing in MMA as an amateur in 2010. She trained under Greg Nelson at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy. She racked up a perfect amateur record of 4–0 with 2 wins by TKO and 2 by decision. Both of the finishes came in the first round.
Invicta Fighting Championship
She made her professional debut against Emily Kagan at Invicta FC 4: Esparza vs. Hyatt on January 5, 2013. After two back-and-forth rounds, Namajunas was able to secure the victory via submission due to a rear-naked choke in round three. The victory in her pro debut also earned her the Submission of the Night bonus.
In her second professional appearance, Namajunas faced Kathina Catron at Invicta FC 5: Penne vs. Waterson on April 5, 2013. She won the fight by submission due to a flying armbar just 12 seconds into the first round. This performance garnered Namajunas her second Invicta Submission of the Night award.
Despite losing in The Ultimate Fighter finale, Namajunas was awarded two season $25,000 bonus awards for Performance of the Season and Fight of the Season for her bout with Joanne Calderwood.
Namajunas was expected to face Nina Ansaroff on May 23, 2015, in a preliminary bout at UFC 187. Prior to the fight, Ansaroff missed weight by 4 pounds and was fined 20 percent of her fight purse. The bout was scrapped entirely a couple of hours before the event, as Ansaroff was declared medically unfit to compete due to illness. According to Ansaroff's camp, she contracted the flu the week before, and the weight cut exacerbated the illness, forcing Ansaroff to abandon her weight cut early, and ultimately withdraw from the fight. Though the fight could not take place, Namajunas was paid her full fight purse (show- and win money).
Namajunas fought Angela Hill on October 3, 2015, at UFC 192. After some back-and-forth striking exchanges on the feet, Namajunas took Hill down with a trip off a punch. As Hill stood up, Namajunas quickly secured a rear-naked choke, submitting Hill in the first round.
Namajunas faced Michelle Waterson on April 15, 2017, at UFC on Fox 24. Namajunas won by submission due to a rear-naked choke in round 2, marking the 5th submission finish in her career.
Namajunas faced Strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden in New York on November 4, 2017. She came in as a big underdog against the undefeated champion. Namajunas, in what was regarded as a huge upset, won by KO in first round to be crowned the new UFC Women's Strawweight Champion. The win also earned Namajunas her second Performance of the Night bonus award. This was Namajunas's first knockout victory in her professional career (2 TKO-wins as an amateur). At the UFC 217 post-fight press conference, Namajunas stated that she intended to use her champion status as a platform to spread awareness of mental illness.
In her second title defense, Namajunas faced Jéssica Andrade in the main event at UFC 237 on May 11, 2019, in Andrade's home country of Brazil, in what would be Namajunas's first MMA fight outside the United States. Namajunas lost the fight by KO via a slam in the second round. The fight earned her the Fight of the Night award.
Namajunas was scheduled to face Jéssica Andrade for a rematch on April 18, 2020 at UFC 249. On April 8, 2020, Namajunas withdrew from the event, with her manager citing a pair of deaths in the family related to the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason. Instead the bout was rescheduled and eventually took place on July 12, 2020 at UFC 251. Namajunas won the fight via split decision. This fight earned her theFight of the Night award.
Namajunas utilizes forward movement while pressuring opponents with jabs and high kicks. She is known for her advanced technical striking and footwork, using a variety of angles and several creative adjustments. During her fight at Invicta FC 6, she directed a series of axe kicks, front kicks, and forward roundhouse kicks to her opponent's head. After closing the distance, she will sometimes attempt to grapple and execute a submission.
Namajunas is a Christian, and is an anti-communist. Prior to her bout against Chinese fighter Zhang Weili, Namajunas spoke of the history of communist oppression in her ancestral homeland Lithuania and mentioned the documentary The Other Dream Team as an inspiration. She said the documentary gives a "good idea as to what my family had to go through, the reason I'm in the United States today, the reason that I do mixed martial arts, all of that stuff", and stated it is a reminder that it is "better dead than red". She said that she viewed her fight with Zhang as symbolizing a fight between communism and democracy, saying that "Weili is red" and "represents [communism]" due to her being a Chinese person, while she will be "fighting for freedom", relating it to her family history under the former USSR regime in Lithuania. In an interview with Ariel Helwani, she doubled down on these comments, alleging "[Zhang] may be told what to say". She also stated that she was not sure what Zhang's personal beliefs about the political regime in her country were. Namajunas clarified that her comments were not directed personally at Zhang, and instead attributed her decision to speak on this topic in part to her mental struggles and PTSD. Zhang later said she didn't take offense to these comments by Namajunas, dismissing them as "[making] no sense". In describing her background and motivation for fighting, Namajunas stated "I’ve got the Christ consciousness, I’ve got Lithuanian blood and I’ve got the American dream."
Namajunas is the fiancée and training partner of former Glory and UFC heavyweight Pat Barry, who is 13 years her elder. Namajunas and Barry met at Duke Roufus' gym, where Barry started training after losing his home to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, while Namajunas started training there during high school.
He claims he fell in love with Namajunas the first time he saw her. In a December 2014 interview, Barry said that he and Namajunas were dating "for almost five years now", while Namajunas felt like it was "two or three years". The couple got engaged in 2014.
Namajunas has played the piano since the age of five. Namajunas's brother, Nojus, operated a private piano studio. He also is a mixed martial artist, and made his professional debut in March 2021.
Namajunas formerly had the nickname "The Riveter". Her current moniker, "Thug Rose", was given by friends when she was young because of her intimidating scowl.
I got it from my neighborhood friends. When I was little, I was the only white girl, I was smaller than everyone else, and for some reason I just acted harder than everybody else — just fearless, you know? So they kind of dubbed me that because of the intimidating scowl I always had on my face.