What a difference a month makes. Back in early November, Dana White seemed dead set on the idea that whoever it was that would be fighting Rose Namajunas for the strawweight title next, it wouldn’t be Carla Esparza.
“You don’t sit around and wait for fights, it’s a really bad idea,” White chided in response to the idea of a title shot for the ‘Cookie Monster’—shortly after ‘Thug Rose’ defended her belt against Weili Zhang on November 6th.
If White was disinterested, though, that didn’t stop both women from continuing to express their desire to meet once more inside the Octagon. Esparza and Namajunas first battled for the strawweight crown way back in 2014, at the TUF 20 Finale.
“I don’t see anything else [that] makes sense,” Namajunas said in an interview after White’s comments, when asked about a fight with Esparza.
The Team Oyama fighter lost her title in her first defense, to Joanna Jedrzejczyk, just a few months after her win over Namajunas. But following several years of mixed results, Esparza is currently on a tear—winning five straight bouts, including victories over top contenders Marina Rodriguez and Yan Xiaonan.
So, while Dana White may not be in love with the idea of Esparza fighting for the belt once again, it seems he’s finally come around to the idea that there is no better option. In a recent interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, White was unequivocal when asked what was next for Rose Namajunas.
“Carla Esparza,” said White. “100 percent.”
Good news for the 34-year-old, fighting out of Redondo Beach. From the sound of things, it seems 2022 will a strawweight title rematch more than seven years in the making.