Joanna Jędrzejczyk has predicted the rematch between Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza before, expecting ‘Thug’ to avenge a loss to and defend her strawweight championship against the ‘Cookie Monster.’
But exactly how does Namajunas defeat Esparza at UFC 274 on Saturday night? Jędrzejczyk can envision several different scenarios, but they all have the same outcome: a first-round finish. Because of how much she improved since their first fight at The Ultimate Fighter 20 finale over seven years ago, ‘JJ’ does not doubt that this new version of Namajunas has Esparza beat everywhere.
“I don’t like predictions but I think Rose Namajunas first-round finish,” said Jędrzejczyk (h/t Damon Martin of MMA Fighting). “You know I see Carla Esparza shooting and Rose defending the takedown and submitting her. But her footwork and her strikes are so crispy and juicy and [Rose] can knock her out [as well].
“I feel like Carla Esparza can’t handle it but she’s the next challenger, the contender for the strawweight belt and she deserves the shot. She’s right there at the top and let’s see what’s going to happen.”
Should Namajunas win against Esparza, Jędrzejczyk could find herself in a prime position to challenge her former foe again. That is, if she can get through a second fight against Zhang Weili at UFC 275, the upcoming pay-per-view event confirmed for June.
Jędrzejczyk has not fought since losing a split decision to Weili in a ‘Fight of the Year’ outing at UFC 248. Despite her inactivity and subsequent removal from the official rankings, the former strawweight champion knows she can reinsert herself into the title picture and ascend the rankings with a win over Weili. That could lead to a trilogy against Namajunas, something Jędrzejczyk believes the champion will not shy away from.
“I believe yes [she would face me again],” said Jędrzejczyk. “Cause Rose, she doesn’t run away from fights. She knows what it means to be the champ.
“Perfect plan to fight in Madison Square Garden in November for the belt with Rose Namajunas would be nice. To get revenge there.”
UFC 274 takes place on Saturday, May 7, live from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ.