Earlier this month, Kamaru Usman and Rose Namajunas successfully defended their titles in the UFC 268 and are now looking to other fights in the future. During the event, Kamaru Usman defended his welterweight title in a unanimous decision win over Colby Covington during the main event, while Namajunas edged Zhang Weili in a split decision. Namajunas retained her strawweight title in the UFC women’s competition after taking the belt from the same woman back in April.
For UFC fans, the November rematch between Namajunas and Zhang was quite different from the first one. Namajunas edged her opponent with the smallest margins, earning a split decision during the co-main event at the Madison Square Garden. Two judges at UFC 268 scored the co-main event for Namajunas through scores of 48-47 and 49-46, while the third judge scored it for Zhang at 48-47.
Kamaru Usman, on the other hand, went into the bout after putting back-to-back performances after securing impressive knockouts and almost went three for three. Usman dropped Covington twice during the second round, but he still managed to survive. That shows that Covington is still a fantastic fighter, said Usman after the fight.
What’s the Next Step for Namajunas?
According to many UFC fans who watched the bout, Esparza (9-4 UFC, 18-6 MMA) should have been the opponent challenging Namajunas at the Madison Square Garden’s pay-per-view card. Instead, Weili managed to get a rematch, but she fell short in the split decision.
Moving forward, Namajunas says it only makes sense to think about fighting Carla Esparza soon. Esparza managed to win during their first matchup in the third round during the inaugural UFC strawweight round in December 2014 at The Ultimate Fighter 20 finale. As such, it would be interesting to see Namajunas fighting Esparza after their last fight. UFC fans can find more info here on betting on bouts ahead of a possible matchup.
Speaking to reporters after her last fight, Namajunas revealed that Esparza was on her mind ahead of her bout at UFC 268. For Namajunas, fighting Esparza is the next logical step, but she must consider what the UFC has in mind for her. However, she would still love to have her next bout against Carla Esparza.
Weili and Namajunas fought for five competitive rounds in the rematch. The fight was quite different from their April fight at UFC 261, where Namajunas won in the first-round knockout thanks to her flush head kick. The champion revealed that she thought that Weili had significantly improved from the first fight and didn’t worry that the decision would not go her way.
Who are the Next Possible Contenders for Kamaru Usman?
Takedown or not, Usman’s last fight this month was an excellent performance from a leading pound-for-pound fighter. That was Usman’s 15th straight win in the UFC, with his last five fights defending his title. That has made some fans ready to declare him as the best welterweight fighter of all time.
For fans still waiting to see more from Usman, there’s a long list of possible fighters ready to get back in the cage with this welterweight champion. That includes a former foe and arguably the most interesting fighter in this division.
According to Usman, there are quite a number of possible matchups in the welterweight division. For Usman, Leon Edwards is an excellent choice as he goes into the cage and gets things done. Usman also has a strong rivalry with Jorge Masvidal at the moment, but if he goes out there and starches him, then Leon Edwards will automatically become a bona fide star.
Leon hasn’t lost a fight since he fought Usman for the first time, and if he can go out there and fight off Masvidal, he can be an excellent contender for Kamaru’s next fight. Leon and Masvidal planned to face each other in UFC 269 next month, but Jorge pulled out from the fight. However, Leon Edwards said he wasn’t surprised by the action, and he’s now looking forward to his fight against Usman in 2022.
The UFC is yet to reveal any plans for the defending welterweight champion to fight Edwards, but Leon believes he has the promotion’s support to challenge for the next title. Usman once fought Edwards back in 2015, and the defending welterweight champion won through a unanimous decision and hasn’t lost since.
Besides Leon, Vicente Luque is another solid contender to Usman. Vicente is as battle-tested as other top fighters in the class, and he’s a fun fighter to go against. As such, with Usman’s current fighting skills, Vicente Luque remains an exciting contender. That’s a fight that could possibly happen in the future, but Usman is currently waiting for the two fighters to step up. According to Usman, both Leon and Luque must show the world that they deserve to face him next in the cage.