Rose Namajunashas has come a long way in her UFC career. When she came to the organization, she relied mostly on taekwondo kicks and flashy submissions. Today, she is a former two-time UFC strawweight champion and is considered one of the most well-rounded martial artists in women’s MMA.
Namajunas started her martial arts career at a very young age. She started her Taekwondo training when she was 5 years old. She later took on Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well. While still in high school, Namajunas began training kickboxing at Duke Roufus’ gym “Roufusport”.
Despite still being a teenager, Rose met her soon-to-be husband, Pat Barry, while training at Roufus’ MMA gym. She was 14 at the time.
At 18 years old, Rose started competing in amateur MMA bouts. The Milwaukee-born went 4-0 as an amateur before finally making her MMA professional debut.
But Rose is quite often mentioned in another context. While Rose’s main mma coach is the widely respected and coveted Trevor Wittman, a lot of people throw a serious side eye toward Rose’s longtime partner and former UFC fighter and kickboxer Pat Barry.
Pat celebrated his 42nd birthday just last month. Meanwhile Rose, 13 years his junior, is just 29. But this of course isn’t that shocking in our modern day and age, what is however – is that the two had met many many years ago. Here’s how Rose described coming into Duke Roufus’ kickboxing gym on her joint appearance with Pat on Joe Rogan’s ultra popular podcast:
Rose: Yeah I did one season of wrestling as a senior and then I did kickboxing and I met Pat at Duke Roufus’ gym in Milwaukee and that’s kinda where I saw guys like him all those dudes doing it as professions and I was like maybe I can do it as a profession too, you know.
Joe: And how old were you at the time?
Rose: I first walked into Duke’s gym I was like – I think I was 14, and then I left ’cause of ’cause I had other obligations and like stopped training for a while but I was still doing other sports and stuff. And I came back when I was like 17.
Joe: So you were really thinking at the time, maybe this was something I could do as a career?
Rose: You know, not for sure but definitely like I saw – I was always gonna be involved in martial arts no matter what as a hobby… no matter what
The really shocking part is hard to miss – the two appear to have met when Namajunas was just 14 years old. But it’s unclear if the two were close right off the bat because Namajunas later said that a pivotal moment in her MMA career was the fight between Cris Cyborg and Gina Carano. That fight took place in August of 2009 when Rose was about a month into 17 years old. Here’s how she described that moment:
Joe: Now when you two started hanging out and Pat had already been an accomplished kick boxer, was an mma fighter and did that sort of embolden you to the idea?
Rose: Oh so the fighting? Like professionally? Yeah! And that’s when I saw Gina Carano and Cyborg fighting at the that big fight that they had. And then that’s kinda what inspired me to – oh I can take this to the next level.
A simple google search can tell you two things – first that in Milwaukee, WI where Duke’s gym is – and where the two met, age of consent is 18 and the other thing is that Pat was 30 and Rose was 17.
Back in 2014, Namajunas & Barry gave the following interview to bleacher report:
Pat remembers a lot about those early days because he fell in love with Namajunas that first time he saw her. He was struck by her beauty, by her poise and her attitude. You can say that love at first sight is cheesy, but you can’t tell Pat he did not experience it.
It took a little longer for Namajunas to feel the same way about Barry, but his charm eventually wore her down.
“I say we’ve been dating for more than five years, but she says two or three years,” Barry says.
“We were apparently together a lot longer than I was aware of,” Namajunas says with a laugh. “It took him a while to chip away at my cold heart, but he did.”
Barry’s timeline checks out with the other anecdote Rose told Joe Rogan. 2009 – a year when rose was just 17 was somewhat pivotal for their relationship and her career.