Former strawweight champion Carla Esparza was recently given hope that a chance to fight again for the title could happen next year after current belt-holder Rose Namajunas said it was the fight she wanted, while Dana White also appears to be warming up to the idea.
Esparza is so keen on getting the opportunity that she’s now said she’d be willing to postpone her wedding plans in order to seal the deal.
“In all reality, it would be ideal to have this fight before May,” Esparza told MMAfighting.com. “That is my ideal timeline. Fortunately, Rose came out of that fight saying ‘I’m healthy,’ [and] I think she’s ready to go into another fight. She wants to stay busy. So if we can make it happen before that date, that would be amazing.
“If it doesn’t, I’m completely willing to change the date of my wedding, and everyone who’s on my wedding list is my friend and they would 100 percent understand. My fiancé, we’re getting married no matter what. We’re going to be together forever, so the date being a couple months later doesn’t change things. This title fight is the priority right now.”
Regardless of when it happens though, Esparza appears to be thankful for the opportunity, even although she believes that she’s earned it after compiling a five-fight winning streak against the likes of Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez and Yan Xiaonan.
“No matter how much in my eyes, and a lot of people’s eyes, I was literally the only fight that made any sense, you just never know with the UFC,” Esparza said. “They make decisions sometimes that maybe don’t make the most sense. Until I got that confirmation, now it’s real.
“It feels really good. Maybe I haven’t been the biggest talker or spokesperson for myself, like, ‘I’m the best in this division, I deserve this more than anyone!’ That’s never been me. But I try to make fights and my actions show that I deserve it, and I thought I did enough to get the last fight. But now it’s a reality.”
Esparza also praised Namajunas for making it known that it’s the fight she wants as she seeks revenge for a 2014 title loss to the ‘Cookie Monster’.
“I am just super grateful, because on a personal level, that is so cool. I am just so happy, to kind of have my back essentially and I do have so much respect for her. Not only on a personal level, but as an outsider’s perspective, this is a hard matchup. After the first time I won my fight, she said, ‘Carla looked great in that fight, that’s a scary fight, that’s a fight that I want to get ready for.’ To me, that just shows so much of a martial artist, so much prowess. She’s not just looking for the easy fight. That’s the mindset of a true champion.
“You’re trying to fight the best and beat the best. She wants her rematch. Everyone she’s ever fought before, she’s come back and beat them. She gets motivated and wants to win. I think she wants to be hands down the best in the world and I have so much respect for that. Because there are a lot of people who want to take better matchups, who want easier fights. That’s not Rose. Don’t get me wrong, she’s coming in here to take my head off, but I have nothing but respect for her mindset.”