Rose Namajunas continues to express interest in a rematch with Carla Esparza for her potential next defense of the strawweight title. And, if she had things her way, she’d like the UFC to schedule it soon.
The reigning champion recently bested Zhang Weili for the second time this year, earning a split decision over the former champion at UFC 268 last month. With the win over Weili, Namajunas immediately set her sights on the next potential title challenger in Carla Esparza, who she has already met before in the Octagon. Following the completion of their season of The Ultimate Fighter over seven years ago, Esparza submitted Namajunas via third-round rear-naked choke to claim the inaugural women’s strawweight championship.
It has been quite some time since Esparza held the 115-pound title, but she has worked her way back into contention since then. The ‘Cookie Monster’ has gone on a five-fight win streak and climbed up the rankings to occupy the No. 2 slot, which she hoped to turn into another championship opportunity. Namajunas would like to see that happen and reiterated her support for Esparza to get her long-awaited title shot.
“It’s the only one that makes sense,” Namajunas told Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie (video provided by MMA Junkie). “I can fight anybody, but nothing really interests me other than Carla.”
Though both Namajunas and Esparza are in agreement, the UFC brass is not. UFC president Dana White has gone on record to suggest that Esparza will not receive a title shot in favor of “another option” they are looking at for Namajunas’ return. This apparently stems from Esparza turning down a planned fight against Mackenzie Dern a few months ago and opting to sit and wait for the winner of Namajunas and Weili to be determined.
Namajunas can understand why White saw that as a bad move for Esparza, but she still wants the rematch to be made regardless of the skepticism from the promotion.
“I think it’s probably maybe because she’s a wrestler or something,” said Namajunas. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s hard for them to get behind her, but I don’t know what it is, really. I do think she was sitting out and waiting for the title shot and that wasn’t the best move, but honestly I think it just makes sense. Make it happen.”
Esparza got wind of Namajunas’ comments imploring the UFC to settle on a second meeting between them and followed suit.