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.
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.”
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.
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