Rose Namajunas discusses her decision to tackle childhood sexual abuse in a new documentary


Rose Namajunas considers herself a fairly private person and a bit of an introvert. When she was asked to document her career and life, she had to overcome a lot personal barriers.

The call came five years ago from director Marius Markevicius, who wanted to learn more about her after watching her claim the UFC strawweight title; they also share Lithuanian heritage. Namajunas had grown accustomed to cameras being in her face when she was a prominent fighter. However, documentaries would need a different access level to her daily life.

“I’m just very grateful that Marius was so patient with me and persistent and persevered through the whole thing,” Namajunas told MMA Fighting about the experience. “Because I am used to UFC cameras, and they’re used to other fighters, and fight camps are very intense. They have to cover many fighters and that’s not a difficult thing. They can’t always necessarily delve deep into topics.

“The way his mind works, it’s like a work of art with the way he could just focus on my individual story, and I do feel like all these other fighters have great stories. It was a completely different experience .”


Markevicius had received critical acclaim for his 2012 documentary about the Lithuanian Olympic basketball team, The Other Dream Team. He was clear that he wasn’t going to tell a story about Namajunas or her career in boxing.

Namajunas was a public figure for the majority of her adult years. There are already many interviews that detail her rise to becoming a UFC champion. In order for the documentary to separate itself, Markevicius knew he had to find out more, questioning her relationships and her upbringing. Markevicius had to be honest about her highs and lows.

” I think that we were able to reach a deeper level than many films and TV programs about MMA fighters,” Markevicius stated. It was a wonderful experience.

“There is a lot of material on Rose, and you’ve been covering her for years, and she’s done a ton of interviews and The Ultimate Fighter and fight-week type events. To get to know Rose better and understand her personality and how she ticks, and discover what makes Rose so human .”

A big part of the film deals with Namajunas’ family and their journey relocating from Lithuania to the U.S. after her parents got refugee status. The film focuses on her loss of her father who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at an early stage.

Namajunas also confronts the awful truth about sexual abuse she suffered as a child — a subject she’s broached in the past but never wanted to discuss any specific details.

According to Namajunas, addressing her past trauma in the documentary wasn’t necessarily about unburdening herself but rather helping others realize they’re not alone.

” I am still [confronting those demons],, and there is still a lot to learn from my roots,” Namajunas said. “I know that it can help other people. This is a far more widespread phenomenon than most people believe.

” If I can assist a child or adult who is dealing with similar issues, it makes my life worth while. You can be forgiven. You can move on from things and you can make a tragedy into something beautiful and do something positive with any of our suffering.”

Namajunas admits filming those parts of the documentary were particularly difficult. But it was also a cathartic and therapeutic experience in some ways.

” It’s encouraging that you are honest,” she stated. “Obviously, I don’t want to be soft all the time, and there’s a time to be tough, but it’s OK to show emotion and to be yourself.”

Of course, the documentary also deals with many different aspects of Namajunas’ fighting career, including her championship runs and the difficult setbacks along the way. Markevicius stated that his objective was to present a complete story, from beginning to end. Namajunas had to allow him access to all aspects of her life as well as the lives and relationships she has with her family.

“It is a difficult thing and a sensitive thing,” he said. “I try to just give the subject, in this case Rose, the forum to tell her story. There have been interviews over the years. Some subjects were discussed, but Rose never got to tell her entire story.

” I wanted to provide a safe environment that would allow her to be herself. Although it’s hard, hopefully, the therapeutic aspects are there and, as Rose stated, they speak to others who have experienced abuse or other difficult subjects

The final product, Thugrose ,, debuted at Austin Film Festival. It will be available on UFC Fight Pass in November. 9.

Namajunas hopes that anyone who sees the film will be inspired by her story.

” I hope people take away that your words are very important,” she stated. Words have power and can make or break any situation. As long as it is within God’s will and that you live right, your goal is to be the best.

“Even if you have to go through some down parts, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s always something that can be made from almost anything.”