Rose Namajunas has opened up on the impact that Conor McGregor’s infamous bus attack had on her.
Rose Namajunas was one of a number of fighters on the bus that was attacked by Conor McGregor in April 2018, in what was the beginning of the heated rivalry between the Irishman and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The incident took place after a media day promoting UFC 223, when McGregor and a number of his friends arrived at Brooklyn’s Barclays Centre and laid siege to the bus that was transporting Nurmagomedov and his fellow red corner fighters.
“It was like an eternity being in that bus, because I had no idea who that was that was attacking us,” Namajunas said in a Year of the Fighter segment on UFC Fight Pass. “All of a sudden I see a big ol’ fist kind of bang on my window and then I see one of the security guards grab one of the dudes.
“I didn’t know it was Conor McGregor until a little bit later. When he threw the dolly, the bus was backing up into the elevator spot as he threw it to the window right in front of me. But had the bus not been moving, it would have hit my window.”
Namajunas explained how she initially feared that it was a random act of violence and was brought back to her childhood, when projectiles would be hurled at her school bus.
As the bad memories rushed back, Namajunas was not exactly in the best place mentally but she went on to defend the UFC strawweight title in a rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk two days after the bus incident.
“In my head, once I found out it was Conor, I was a little relieved, but I still was on edge,” Namajunas said. “It just took me back to when I was a kid, riding to school through bad neighbourhoods on a bus and people throwing sh*t at our bus. And I’ve never been completely cornered like that. We were just sitting there not in control. So what did I do in that moment? I said the Lord’s prayer again and then it did make me feel a little bit better at that moment, and it got me through that tough moment.
“And everything that was from my childhood, this is what I fought to get out of, and this is like back to stupid street sh*t that I don’t want to be around that any more. That’s what I fought my way out of. So here I find myself again in this same spot, but then at the same time, I came back around it, like, this is also what I’m here for. So I took it as motivation to show the world that’s not gonna stop me.”
While Namajunas escaped injury in the bus, others weren’t so lucky as Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg were hurt by shards of broken glass and had to be pulled from their respective bouts on the UFC 223 card.
McGregor was ultimately arrested and charged after handing himself in, along with teammate Cian Cowley.
As for Namajunas, she struggled to relax when she returned to the Barclays Centre for her fight but ‘Thug’ rose above the stress to earn a unanimous decision win over Jedrzejczyk.
“Arriving to the arena itself was hard,” Namajunas explained. “Super hard. Because I was super stressed out from the incident on the bus and going back to the same arena with the same elevator and then the noises of the bus kind of took me back to two days earlier. I was super shell shocked from that. Super tense.
“I was so tense that when Trevor [Wittman] was taping my hands, I was clinching my fist super tight. I turn over my hand and my hand was bleeding. I was like ‘dude, I need to chill out. I need to breathe or something’.”