Exciting MMA prospect Rose Namajunas, steps back into the Invicta cage after a late third round submission victory at Invicta FC 4.

The victory at Invicta FC 4 also marked Namajunas’ first professional bout, and she looks to improve her record to 2-0 against fellow prospect Kathina Catron at Invicta FC 5 on April 5th.  A Renaissance woman at her core, Rose will try to ignite the crowd once again when the cage door closes April 5th.

Corey Smith: With a wide range of interests from an early age, including music and athletics, what led you to choose mixed martial arts as your primary occupation?

Rose Namajunas: I had a lot of different interests growing up, and for some reason the main theme that always stuck out was: sports. The majority of my family members were involved in sports, so it runs in the genes. I did modeling and music on the side, but for some reason anything athletic intrigued me the most and stuck with me.

RN: Athletics was also the first thing I started, and the first martial art I was exposed to was Tae Kwon Do. From there it slowly progressed, but I never knew that I would do this as a profession. I stuck with it, one thing led to another, and here I am at Invicta on my second fight.

CS: Do you think that it is important to try a wide variety of hobbies and activities?

RN: Yeah I think so. The main theme in MMA is being well-rounded, the well rounded fighter usually does well. And in life that can be applied to anything. Doing music, and fighting at the same time, helps me find a lot parallels in them. I can explain a lot of things to Pat (Barry). He doesn’t understand a lot about music, but I can find analogies with fighting that make sense to him.

RN: It sounds crazy, but everything is connected. I feel like the more things that you do and are good at, the more enlightened you are. It goes back to the whole Renaissance period, Da Vinci was a legend for a reason. He was good at all types of things, because if you can be good at many different things you’re enlightened, and you can see how we are all connected aside from all our differences.

CS: You have spoken about how, as far back as you could remember, you were always focused on everything you did. Where do you think that mental attitude came from?

RN: I don’t know, honestly I think it was just something I was born with. I don’t really know where it came from. It was just something I knew as a child. There were a few times I was a bad child behind closed doors, but I never really talked back to her or had temper tantrums. She just explained it to me, and ever since Kindergarten it just clicked for me.

RN:  My teacher would talk about how I got there early, completed my work, and then I didn’t move until class was over. I don’t know if it had to do with focus, or if it has to do with proper diet. When they are growing up I think a lot of kids are being fed foods that have no nutritional value. It’s no wonder why they are bouncing off the walls and getting diagnosed with ADD. There is so much sugar and no nutrients.

RN:  So it’s a combination of my personality, never having a problem with authority, but also the surroundings that I grew up with. I grew up with a non-American mother, and I think children in other countries tend to be a little more disciplined and less rebellious.

CS: With a fellow mixed martial artist for a partner, heavyweight Pat Barry, what are the advantages of having a fellow fighter as a boyfriend?

RN: We speak the same language. Even the things that we don’t view the same way, we can use certain things that we have common ground on. His knowledge of fighting, and my knowledge of fighting help me explain things about myself like music that he doesn’t particularly understand. We know each other’s facial expressions, and can speak without talking. We might look at each other in front of people, and they might not know we are having a conversation. Communication is key to a relationship and having a common language helps.

CS: In your pro debut at Invicta FC 4, you won via submission late in the third round. How satisfying was that win for you?

RN: It was extremely satisfying. You’re tired and just want to sit down after going through three rounds of action like that. It’s exhausting. So it’s extremely satisfying because I wanted to get the finish. One of the gratifying moments of that fight was that it was a finish, and it was my first submission win, so that was cool.

RN:  My opponent was known for being well rounded on the ground, so that was a win in itself. She came from Greg Jackson’s camp, and was more experienced than I am, so that was a win right there. All those things made the win perfect. To go in there after two rounds of ups and downs and mental barriers that I had to break through, and pull off the win like that was definitely amazing.

CS: You spoke about how in your first pro fight, the size of the cage was a little unfamiliar to you. Along with that, what else did you learn from that first fight that you can’t learn in training?

RN: Being against the cage, and not knowing when I should have angled off at the right time was different. The amount of steps that I could back up until I get to the cage without having to clinch up with my opponent in the middle of the ring. Along with that, I have a habit in training, if my opponent is not really doing any damage to me, against the cage I tend to wait for my opponent to make a move and then I react.

RN: I don’t waste my time trying to muscle her off or get out of a situation, if it isn’t really going anywhere for either of us. In the fight I could have muscled her off, but that’s not how I train. We have “Wall Wednesday” at the gym where we start on the wall, so we practice it a lot.

RN: So should you prepare for the worst, and therefore make the worst happen? Or should I not worry about the worst happening and just implement my game plan? That’s something you always struggle with, because you want to be prepared but you don’t want to self-sabotage.

CS: You split your training camp between your hometown gym, The Academy in Minnesota, and Grudge Training Center in Colorado. How did that come about? What areas do you focus on at Grudge?

RN: Pat trained at Grudge for his last fight against Shane Del Rosario, and he said great things about that camp. Trevor (Wittman) and Pat know each other from coaching The Ultimate Fighter together. So ever since Pat went out there, he wanted to bring me out there. Before my last fight was the first time I was at Grudge, and I loved it, it was great and beneficial. So for this fight, I just got out here to Grudge and had my first workout with Trevor tonight. I love it a lot.

RN: In Minnesota with Greg (Nelson), we work on everything, but we work mainly on areas I need to improve, wrestling and Jiu Jitsu. I enjoy striking more, but Greg knows much more about the Jiu Jitsu game.

RN: With Trevor, he’s a boxing fanatic. He teaches me the overall striking game not just boxing, but kicks and everything. I’ll be working with Cat Zingano this week. The high altitude is also a benefit for my endurance.

RN: In Minnesota, again it’s a lot of ground work, but also my strength and conditioning with Matt Miller. I focus on getting in the best shape possible, with power lifting and horse power.

CS: With your pro debut, and your next bout on April 5th at Invicta FC 5, how has your experience been so far with the company?

RN: Invicta has been tremendous. They treat us all like queens. Pat was actually a little jealous of the treatment they were giving me, and he is a heavyweight in the UFC. They know the fight game really well, they aren’t rookies.

RN: They aren’t running an organization for the first time, they are very professional about everything and Invicta takes care of their athletes. Invicta doesn’t ever leave you hanging, they are super organized. I am very appreciative of everything, I love it.

CS: Your opponent on April 5th, Kathina Catron, has three professional bouts under her belt. How familiar are you with her? What are you expecting out of the bout?

RN: I am coming in to impose my will and throw thunder at her. She is going to have to be able to handle it, or she is going down. I love striking, so that’s what I am looking to come in and do. Throw a flurry of punches and kicks and be ready for anything else.

RN: I know that she is similar to my last opponent Emily, though she is not a lefty. She does like to clinch up more, and is coming in well rounded. I feel like being well rounded is good, but you tend to go wherever the fight goes and that’s not my plan. My plan is to impose my will, and not just let whatever happens happen.

CS: Inside the cage, whose voice are you looking to the most? What type of advice to prefer to receive during the fight?

RN: Well Pat is phenomenal. I personally think that he is the best corner man ever. If you want someone in your corner with great advice, he knows exactly what to say. I don’t know if it’s because of the relationship we have or if he is just that good at it.

RN: It’s not necessarily that I am looking for something or that I look to a certain person, because in the fight you are on auto-pilot. It almost seems like a dream, you can’t really recall everything that happens. Because you are in such a high adrenaline state or survival mode, that whatever you pick up you don’t really have much control over it.

RN: Chico Camas was in my corner last time, and he was great. We trained together back in Milwaukee, and is one of the people I connected with. He was telling me some great things as well.

RN:  Kaitlin (Young) was in my corner, along with Greg Nelson. Greg doesn’t have to yell or forcefully say anything, his words travel straight into my ears. Like the cartoons where a scent travels across the screen and into a cartoon characters nose, that’s how his words reach me.

RN: It’s hard to explain what is the right thing to say, or the right words that click. It’s a letting go experience, and I just listen to each of my coaches.

CS: When you aren’t terrorizing Pat Barry and filming it for YouTube, what kinds of activities do you enjoy? What helps you to mentally unwind after a hard day of training camp?

RN: Recently we started doing the sensory deprivation floats, and that is really fun to do. Other than the salt water burning your skin from all the cuts and scratches of MMA practice, it’s a great way to refuel, and to get to a Zen state of mind. It’s a really easy way to meditate for me.

RN: I love listening to any music, and we love watching movies, Pat and I. Mainly we are very laid back kind of people, but I know we are perceived as always making these goofy videos, which is fun. But we also have a flip side to it, we love just being together, not really going out that much.

RN: I love being outside, and animals are another passion of mine. I’ve always loved any animals, and I can’t wait to get a puppy. Anytime I can be around animals or nature in general. I love art, and drawing, but during camp it’s hard to do those things when I am so drained. I like non energy taxing things like taking a walk, or sitting and talking with Pat.

CS: Lastly, MMA is as much a team sport as it is an individual one. Who would you like to thank?

RN: I want to thank Pat Barry for being my number one hype man, and my soul mate. I want to thank Trevor Wittman, and his wife Christine. My awesome coaches Greg Nelson and Matt Miller. Brad Butler at SuckerPunch Entertainment.

RN: My sponsors Fear The Fighter, PolyCase Ammo, and Down2Scrap.

RN: I want to also thank my mom and brother, and all my family in Lithuania. And lastly, Invicta for giving me this opportunity!