Dana White Confirms Carla Esparza Will ‘100 Percent’ Challenge Rose Namajunas Next

    ByRoss Markey

    Dec 21, 2021

    UFC president, Dana White has confirmed that inaugural UFC and Invicta FC strawweight champion, Carla ‘Cookie Monster’ Esparza will challenge current champion, ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas for the title next in a 2022 rematch.

    Esparza, the promotion’s first strawweight champion, managed to clinch the crown as part of The Ultimate Fighter 20 back in 2014, submitting Namajunas with a third round rear-naked choke. 

    Undefeated in her last five consecutive outings, the California native managed to stamp her status as title contender back in May, stopping Yan Xiaonan with a dominant second round ground strikes knockout win. Esparza moved to 18-6 as a professional off the back of the triumph.

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    Namajunas, a two-time undisputed strawweight titleholder, reclaimed the throne back in April of this year at UFC 261 – stopping former champion, Zhang Weili with a stunning opening round high-kick. 

    The Milwaukee-born finisher then co-headlined UFC 268 last month at Madison Square Garden in an immediate title rematch with Weili, scoring a unanimous decision victory.

    Despite Esparza’s fifth straight win and eye-catching stoppage win over Xiaonan, the promotion elected to pair Namajunas and Weili together immediately for a title rematch, however, when speaking with ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto recently, White confirmed Esparza would challenge next; “Carla Esparza,” White said when asked who Namajunas would face next. “100 percent.

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    Prior to her win over Xiaonan, Esparza had landed a trio of close wins over Marina Rodriguez, Michelle Waterson, and Alexa Grasso, before a much clearer unanimous decision win over fellow former Invicta FC strawweight best, Virna Jandiroba. Esparza currently sits at #2 in the official strawweight rankings behind Weili following her May win over Xiaonan. 

    Before her pair of victories against Hebei native, Weili – Namajunas avenged her strawweight title loss to former division champion, Jessica Andrade in October of last year on ‘Fight Island’ – managing a close split decision win.