A new No. 1 contender in the strawweight division is going to be determined at UFC 275 on Saturday.
UFC president Dana White confirmed to John Morgan of the Underground that the winner of Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2 would be next in line for newly crowned champion Carla Esparza.
“This would definitely be whoever wins this will definitely fight Esparza for the title,” said White.
“I’m sure she’ll be watching this Saturday closely and be ready to roll with whoever wins.”
Esparza won the strawweight championship for a second time against Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 in May. There was no interest in a trilogy between Esparza and Namajunas, which paved the way for a new contender to emerge.
One of those contenders is Marina Rodriguez, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the division and on a four-fight win streak. The Brazilian believed she should get a championship opportunity after her split decision win over Yan Xiaonan at UFC 272 this past March. White agreed she is close to contention, but not enough to get her shot yet.
“She is,” said White. “She’s right there. These things happen. Timing is everything.”
Should Jedrzejczyk win, it would set up a rematch with Esparza. The ex-champion defeated the ‘Cookie Monster’ via second-round technical knockout at UFC 185 and went on to enjoy a nearly three-year reign over the division before suffering her first professional loss to Namajunas. When she announced her return to the Octagon after losing a split decision to Weili in a ‘Fight of the Year’ at UFC 248, Jedrzejczyk welcomed a rematch against Esparza.
Weili also expressed interest in Esparza, who challenged the 34-year-old following her title-winning effort against Namajunas. Though she did not get the fight, ‘Magnum’ knew there was a chance she could still face Esparza at some point.
UFC 275 does down on Saturday, June 11, at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.