Will the upcoming rematch between Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza look different? Joanna Jędrzejczyk believes so.
Namajunas and Esparza met at The Ultimate Fighter 20 finale over seven years ago, where the ‘Cookie Monster’ submitted ‘Thug’ via third-round rear-naked choke to acquire the inaugural strawweight championship. The reign of Esparza was short-lived as her next defense came opposite of Jędrzejczyk, who brutalized her en route to a second-round technical knockout at UFC 185 just three months later.
Jędrzejczyk enjoyed two years as champion, defending her throne five times before sharing the Octagon with Namajunas at UFC 217 and UFC 223, respectively. The former champion was defeated twice by Namajunas, once by technical knockout and once by unanimous decision.
Having fought Namajunas and Esparza and experiencing mixed results during her run, Jędrzejczyk sees their rematch going another way. In fact, ‘JJ’ recently told Danny Segura of MMA Junkie that Namajunas can — and will — avenge her loss to and keep her belt against Esparza.
“I think that Rose will defend her belt,” said Jędrzejczyk. “Carla won back in the day in 2014, but both of them are totally different fighters, different athletes with different mentalities as well, but I think that Rose will win this fight. She’s very strong. She’s very, very fast. Her timing is just perfect with her footwork. Of course, Carla has a few wins straight, but Rose is on a different level, I think.”
The winner or loser of Namajunas vs. Esparza II could be the next opponent for Jędrzejczyk, who has requested either of them for her eventual return to competition. The 34-year-old also revealed she is closer than ever to fighting again, which she has not done since her ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate against Zhang Weili at UFC 248.
“I’m trying to get to the point and I really believe that soon I will get to this point where I want to be in,” said Jędrzejczyk. “Where I was planning to be so many months ago. We [are] getting there, so I might be fighting very soon.
“I would like to do two fights [in 2022],” continued Jędrzejczyk. “I see myself fighting two times this year.”
One of those fights could very well be a highly anticipated rematch against Weili, who UFC president Dana White said is likely next for Jędrzejczyk during his post-fight press conference at UFC 272 earlier this month.
A date for Namajunas vs. Esparza II has not been confirmed, but a report from Ariel Helwani states that the champion has her sights set on the summer.