Exclusive: UFC Star Rose Namajunas Talks Reebok Shoes and Defending Her Title at UFC 237

UFC star Rose Namajunas is preparing for her biggest test yet: a showdown against No. 1 contender Jessica Andrade. And Reebok has equipped her with what she needs to ensure a successful training camp.

After defeating Joanna Jędrzejczyk for the women’s strawweight title in November 2017 and then again in April 2018, Namajunas secured a deal with Reebok in February. And now, the fighter — who is scheduled to take on Andrade at UFC 237 on May 11 in Brazil — is a featured athlete in Reebok’s “#SplitFrom” campaign, which highlights stories from athletes athletes who have defied convention and pushed boundaries to reach the pinnacle of their respective fields.

“Rose smashes our stereotypical image of who champion fighters are supposed to be. She’s a classically-trained pianist and a lover of nature who is never afraid to reveal her sensitive, creative, or vulnerable side. Most fighters are scared to reveal any potential ‘weakness,’ but Rose isn’t scared of anything — not even about revealing her struggles with mental health and her fierce commitment to overcoming them,” Reebok’s performance business unit VP Todd Krinsky told FN.” She’s living proof that strength comes in many shapes and that champions can rise up from any background.”

With her matchup against Andrade a month away, Namajunas spoke with FN about working with Reebok, preparing for her upcoming bout and another passion of hers outside the octagon — cleaning up Mother Nature.

What do you want your fans to learn about you from your appearance in Reebok’s fans of yours expect from your appearance in Reebok’s #SplitFrom campaign?

“Generally speaking I’m a timid person, but when I step in the cage it’s a pretty wild experience. I try to be as honest as possible, and I’m not the most materialistic person. I want to be an inspiration to people who look up to me and try to do my best to set a good example and be as honest as possible and knowing we’re not perfect but we strive for perfection no matter what.”

What made you want to sign with Reebok?

“It’s cool because it doesn’t just fit one particular mold. Anyone can wear Reebok and find their style — you don’t have to be one particular type of person to wear Reebok. That fits well with me because I have a bunch of different moods and I can always find something that can fit what I’m feeling that day. And I feel like the quality of their stuff is cool, and some of the Reebok Classics are the most comfortable shoes that I own. I just like the fresh clean look that they have and the positive vibe.”

Why is Reebok such a great brand in the combat sports market?

“As far as my experience with the Reebok people I interact with, they really try to listen to the athlete and figure out exactly what wee need in order to feel comfortable in the cage. For everybody it’s a little bit different so they try to accommodate for everybody’s body type — it’s evolving and getting better and better. And when Reebok first joined with the UFC there was a lot of concern with people’s individuality being taken away but I feel like Reebok has cleaned things up and the further the UFC gets along with Reebok people’s personalities are still allowed to shine through.”

Reebok Rose Namajunas
Rose Namajunas in the Sole Fury sneaker from Reebok’s “#SplitFrom” campaign.
CREDIT: Reebok

What are your thoughts on the Reebok Sole Fury?

“I really enjoy the base of the shoe, it fits my foot in particular — I’ve got some flipper feet. I feel like it’s sort of a figure eight shape with a wider fit closer to the toe. When I go jogging I feel like I can push off with the front part of my foot really well and they’re not heavy and clunky. They’re lightweight, there’s a lot of breathability and one of my favorite parts are the shoelaces — they’re convenient for my lazy butt sometimes when I don’t feel like tying my shoes.”

How often are you in sneakers during training camp? And how are you preparing for your next fight?

“These are what I’m wearing whenever I need a sneaker in camp. Other than running, which is a huge part of my training camp, I do a lot of boxing and when we box we don’t box barefoot. You can throw these shoes on for boxing, which is three times a week — we’re not lacing up a boxing boot every time. And aside from that they look cool so just walking around in the grocery store getting my meals and stuff, I can just throw these on and walk around in a casual environment. They’re not just for working out.”

“We have talks every once in a while about specific observations we might make or ideas we come up with, and as we get closer there are more specific things that we do, but it usually falls into place with what I need to do to be a better fighter in general. But there are always differences in preparation, I’m preparing specifically for her. It’s kind of strange because every opponent that I get almost falls right into within the synchronicity of my development as a fighter, so naturally the things we would be working on regardless of having a fight or not line up perfectly with the person we’re fighting.”

What challenges does Jessica Andrade present in the octagon?

“Jessica is a unique style of fighter. There’s not many girls that are shaped like her that are as aggressive and explosive as she is. A lot of girls, if they have the power and strength that she has, they’re tall. But she’s compact, small, a little explosive piece of dynamite. That’s a challenge that she poses. I’m looking to shut down her strengths and attack her weaknesses.”

What’s on your workout playlist?

“I like One Be Lo, that’s my jam for sure. And People Under the Stairs is really good. ‘The Bad Guy’ by Juvenile and ‘Deep in the Cut’ by J Boogie, those are great ones. I like hip-hop but I went to an arts high school where I played classical and jazz piano so sometimes if things are too stressful or chaotic and we want to chill where we listen to the ‘Autumn Jazz’ Pandora station. I’m a true jazz head too and classical music fan as well. And a reggae fan.”

Who are the fighters you look up to the most?

“There’s so many fighters that I can draw things from here and there, I try to learn something from everybody, so it’s hard to pinpoint one fighter as a favorite. And I don’t just look from a fighting standpoint, I look at how they mapped out their careers and see how they carried themselves, how did they make their money and health-wise how they preserved themselves. Any of the smart fighters I look up to. Georges St. Pierre is one of the guys that avoided most of the pitfalls some fighters fall for. And then there’s certain fighters I admire that fell under the radar and hit this stride later in their career. Like Ryan Bader, he was overlooked in his UFC career and has been on a tear for the last three years.”

Reebok Rose Namajunas
Rose Namajunas in Reebok’s “#SplitFrom” campaign.
CREDIT: Reebok

You have also expressed concerns with the environment publicly. What are some of your biggest concerns with the environment and how do you plan on attacking those?

“I have this idea and I feel like it can open a lot of people’s minds. Ultimately, the best thing that will make everyone’s lives better is Earthships, that’s a sustainable type of home. But that’s a big concept to introduce to people right off the bat. So I feel like a great introduction to get people to start thinking more sustainably is through dogs. Almost everyone nowadays has dogs and there’s some crazy statistic where some crazy amount of tons of dog poop gets sent to the landfill in bags each year — I can’t remember how many bags, but it’s pretty mind-blowing amount. And the plastic doesn’t let the dog poop break down and degrade, and it’s a natural fertilizer for soil. I want to introduce people to the idea of composting dog poop and saving it from going to the landfill — which is a nasty concept for people who aren’t comfortable with it — but it can be approached in a fun and goofy way. I thought of creating this hashtag ‘#giveas**t’ meaning actually care about the environment and also give your dog s**t back to the Earth because if we start reversing this cycle of take, take, take and be more like trees and give back as well as take, we’ll be in a much better place. Going to dog parks and having a compost section where you can educate people on how to compost is a fun and interesting way to introduce them to the idea of composting and that could snowball into bigger things like Earthships.”

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