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Rose Namajunas considered pulling out of UFC 223 after Conor McGregor’s bus attack

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor’s attack of a bus at Thursday’s UFC 223 media day almost cost the event another fighter.

McGregor’s brazen assault in Brooklyn not only put him behind bars, but also caused three fights to be removed from the card: Artem Lobov was pulled from his bout with Alex Caceres due to Lobov’s involvement in the incident; and both Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg had to pull out of their respective fights with Anthony Pettis and Brandon Moreno due to injuries sustained by the bus window’s glass shattering.

It also almost caused Rose Namajunas to drop out. The UFC strawweight champion nearly pulled out of her bout with Joanna Jedrzejczyk because she was shook by the incident.

“Yeah, I did,” Namajunas said at the UFC 223 post-fight news conference, when asked if she thought about withdrawing. “But I think a lot of times leading up to many fights I’ll question that. I’ll doubt myself or I’ll question myself, but the voice was strong this time.”

Namajunas expanded on her experience later during the news conference.

“The [dolly] nearly came at my window. Thankfully to the bus driver he was on point. He was backing up the bus as it came to my window but it ended up hitting Michael Chiesa in the head instead unfortunately. So thanks Michael,” Namajunas said. “It shook me up because I didn’t how far it was going to escalate.

“All the guys inside wanted to fight back and jump out of the bus but I don’t know if they are going to open the door and all come in. They are obviously not directly after me but I’m caught in this scenario. My imagination goes crazy through all the things I’ve been through in the past. I know anyone could have had a gun or a knife. I jump to the negative pretty quickly. It was a lot of thoughts going into this fight but I’m grateful to be in one piece and be happy, healthy and safe.”

Namajunas, though, wrapped her mind back around the idea of fighting by framing it as a matter of proving to herself she could push through.

“I’ve just been in tough spots before,” Namajunas said. “I’ve had manual fights before. They were on autopilot kinda thing. This was just another level of that and a new challenge and a new development in my growth, so, I welcome that. I just wanted to, I don’t know, just prove to myself that I can once again face my fears and it will pay off.”

The end result: Another win over the former champion, on 49-46 across-the-board unanimous scores ... and newfound respect for her foe, who defended her title five times before losing the belt to Namajunas at UFC 223.

“This whole camp I was thinking about how she did this five times in a row,” Namajunas said. “I have a lot of respect for her.”