After a successful strawweight title defense in her rematch with Zhang Weili at UFC 268 on Saturday night, Rose Namajunas is now turning her attention to who might be next to challenge her for the belt.
Assessing the options, ‘Thug’ Rose believes that a rematch seven years in the making with the No.2 ranked Carla Esparza makes the most sense.
“I don’t see anything else [that] makes sense,” Namajunas said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour show.
“I think she’s going to give it all she’s got. Before I said Weili is for sure the most dangerous threat right now, just because of the tools that she possessed. Now, after that, Carla’s for sure going to be the most dangerous opponent right this second because of where she’s at, her last performance and all this stuff, and she’s going to be very motivated to try – she’s fought for a long time.
“I would imagine that she’s going to be pretty motivated for this huge opportunity. So that is something that really excites me and interests me more now than it was before.”
The two first fought to establish the inaugural 115lb champion back in 2014 after battling their way through to the final via The Ultimate Fighter show, and it was Esparza who emerged victorious on that occasion via a third round rear-naked choke submission.
Esparza lost the title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her very next fight, but overall she’s compiled an 8-4 record since her first fight with Namajunas and is currently on a five-fight winning streak.
As for Namajunas, she has put together a 9-2 run, including winning the belt on two separate occasions after back-to-back wins over Jedrzeczjyk in her first stint and then Weili twice in her current title campaign so far.