Make no mistake about it: Rose Namajunas is a top strawweight, and throughout UFC Fight Night 80 main event bout against Paige VanZant, she was utterly dominant,

But damn did PVZ prove her mettle.

From the beginning Namajunas did anything she wanted to her opponent. Striking? She landed at will. Wrestling? She countered everything VanZant tried, and threw her to the canvas repeatedly. Submissions? The attempts came unbidden, and the end took the form of a rear naked choke at 2:25 of Round 5.

And yet… and yet PVZ kept coming. At times she was bloody – her face a mask of crimson that would’ve made Jason Vorhees aghast – and still VanZant fought. There were armbars that would’ve broken lesser fighters’ arms, and still VanZant gutted them out.

Rarely do fighters impress in losing performances, but her toughness and refusal to quit in the worst of positions made VanZant a hero.

Give “Thug Rose” a shot at the belt. Give VanZant a round of applause.

They both earned it.