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09th Apr 2018

Conor McGregor bus attack affected Rose Namajunas more than first thought

Patrick McCarry

“I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

One of the more unsettling images of the whole Barclays Center loading bay bus attacking, carried out by Conor McGregor and several of his colleagues, was that of Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Rose Namajunas in the midst of the chaos.

The women’s straw-weight fighters were on board the same bus as Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was the target of the attack that left two smashed windows on the bus. McGregor and Cian Cowley later handed themselves into police in Brooklyn and will appear about the incident, which occurred after the final UFC 223 media day, this June.

While male fighters Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg were forced to pull out of their UFC 223 fights with injuries sustained in the attack, Namajunas came very close to pulling out of her co-main event fight.

Alex Davis, who manages several top MMA stars, was on the bus too. He told MMA Junkie:

“Rose was really really really shaken up about this. Her husband, Pat Barry, said, ‘No, we’re going back, we’re leaving this place.’ And who’s going to stand in front of him? He’s taking his wife away from the mess. He did the right thing.”

Footage from UFC’s Embedded shows Namajunas, her hood up, somewhat rattled but telling those around her that she was fine.

Barry and Namajunas walked back to their hotel room after rejecting the offer of another bus. UFC president White visited her later that day to check on her and she made the decision, on Thursday night, to fight on.

There was still some weight to cut but it was not that gruelling process that played havoc with her night.

Following Namajunas’ unanimous decision victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk, she told Megan Olivi how shook she had been by the loading bay fiasco.

“I do feel like the incident affected me. In the locker room, before the fight, I couldn’t like… normally there is a fire inside me that I feel comes out, but it wasn’t. It was just a very manual type of fight for me. I just had to go do it… I faced it and I overcame.

“I felt like I had a fight before the fight. I had an adrenaline dump. 

“That night, it was hard to fall asleep, you know. Because I didn’t know what was going to happen [on the bus]. I didn’t know if they were going to come on the bus or what was going to happen.”

Emotions through the roof, a sleepless night, traumatic memories and a weight cut to go with it. On top of that, the Colorado fighter was taking on the greatest straw-weight in women’s UFC history.

Her victory is a credit to her team but, primarily, to Namajunas’ character.