Former UFC Strawweight Champion Rose “Thug Rose” Namajunas has angered the tankies with some anti-communism comments made in reference to her upcoming opponent for UFC 261.

China’s Zhang Weili is scheduled to defend her UFC strawweight title versus American former champion Rose Namajunas this month in the sold-out Jacksonville Arena in Florida for UFC 261. 

Namajunas, who is Lithuanian-American, spoke to Lithuanian Sports outlet LRT when she expressed that she is motivated to fight Zhang because of Lithuania’s history of oppression under the Communist Soviet Union. In her interview, Namajunas used the slogan “better dead than red” when describing her mindset heading into the fight with Zhang, who she also called “red”.

Namajunas spoke:

“The animosity and things like that, those can be very motivating factors in short moments, but in all actuality going into the fight there was, I was, maybe there was certain, um rivalries and things like that, but I always kept myself in control. I never really hated the person. I don’t hate Weili or anything like that, there’s nothing… um, you know, but I do feel as though… I have… I have a lot to fight for in this fight. And what she represents and um, you know, I was just, I was just trying to remind myself of, you know, all the—my background and everywhere that I come from and my family and everything like that. And I kind of wanted to educate my training partner Chico Camus on the Lithuanian struggle and just the history of it all. So we watched The Other Dream Team just to get like an overall sentiment of what we fight for. And so, just after watching that it’s just a huge reminder of yeah: better dead than red, you know. And I think, um, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Weili is red, you know, she’s a, that’s what she represents. It’s nothing personal against her, but that’s a huge motivating factor of why I fight and I fight for freedom and I’ve got the Christ consciousness, I’ve got Lithuanian blood and I’ve got the American dream and all of those things I’m taking with me into this fight.”

The phrase “better dead than red” is a term that was popularized in America during the Cold War’s McCarthy-era to express anti-communist sentiment. Zhang has openly shown support to the CCP but it is worth noting that it is not safe for Chinese citizens to speak out against their own government.

As expected, western sympathizers of communism didn’t take kindly to Rose’s comments. Many went to defending China’s record of communism as well as calling her comments racist against Zhang. Media outlets such as the South China Morning Post went as far to smear Lithuania’s past with Nazis as a defense of the country.

“In general, to link sports and politics is stupid,” wrote one user. “I used to root for you. But now I will be for the red communist rocket. Good luck.”

“I hope Zhang will destroy you,” wrote another, who blasted Namajunas for speaking “stereotypical nonsense about communism”.

Thug Rose will be looking to bring the 115 pound belt back to America on April 24th.

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