UFC strawweight challenger Rose Namajunas says her philosophy is “better dead than red” as she prepares to face champion Zhang Weili at UFC 261.
Weili happens to be the UFC’s first champion from China, and that fact inspires her opponent, Namajunas, according to ESPN.
Namajunas claims she is inspired to take on Weili because her family is from Lithuania, and they understand just how dangerous communism is. And she says that freedom and western values are a “huge motivating factor” for why she is a UFC fighter.
The 28-year-old fighter also notes that she took inspiration from the documentary The Other Dream Team. This film portrays the 1992 Lithuanian men’s national basketball team, which entered the Barcelona Olympics as an independent country after leaving the Soviet Union.
According to ESPN, “Namajunas recently told a Lithuanian outlet that the movie is a reminder that ‘it’s better dead than red,’ an anti-communist expression coined during the Cold War. She also said Zhang is ‘red’ and that freedom is a ‘huge motivating factor’ for why she fights.”
“If you’re confused about any of my opinions, you can watch the documentary, and you could get 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,” Namajunas said Wednesday on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “I’d probably have a really different life if it wasn’t for everything in that documentary, how Lithuanians had to struggle with communism oppression.”
“The reason that I brought it up and that I referenced it is because the reporter suggested I had animosity toward past opponents, and that’s what may be caused some motivation in those fights, and in this one, there’s no animosity, so maybe there’s a lack of motivation. But that couldn’t be further from the truth,” she added.
Still, Namajunas hastened to note that she is not against Weili on a personal level. She doesn’t hate her opponent and acknowledged that Weili has said she would like to be friends with Namajunas. “They’re just the person standing in the way of my dream,” Namajunas said of her fight opponents.
“I love Weili,” Namajunas exclaimed. “I don’t know her. I know she wants to be friends and all that stuff. It would be great to get to know her if we could if it’s possible.”
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