Carla Esparza became a two-time strawweight champion following a strange rematch with Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 where the offensive output between them was nearly non-existent over five rounds.
When it was over, Esparza got the nod by split decision as she earned a second win over Namajunas after previously defeating her at The Ultimate Fighter season 20 finale to become the inaugural UFC 115-pound champion. Although there was not much action, the fight was close and Namajunas felt she had done enough to win. However, it is unlikely that there will ever be another UFC 115-pound champion.
That’s according to UFC president Dana White, who addressed the possibility at the post-fight press conference on Saturday night.
” I don’t believe anyone is asking for that rematch,” White stated. “We’ll have to figure something else out. Rose is one the most talented, and she will always be there. Let’s see how it turns out.
“You’ve got [Zhang] Weili and Joanna [Jedrzejczyk], so when that fight happens. 100-percent [that’s a No. 1 contender’s fight].”
As White stated, former champions Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk are scheduled to clash at UFC 275 on June 11 and it appears the winner will be the leading candidate to draw Esparza in her first title defense.
Jedrzejczyk was actually the fighter who dethroned Esparza the first time around after putting on a blistering performance to win the title back in 2015.
As far as the rematch that took place in the co-main event at UFC 274, White stopped short of taking unnecessary shots at Esparza or Namajunas for a lackluster affair that had a restless Phoenix crowd showering them with far more boos than cheers.
“That was a weird fight,” White said. It seemed as though they weren’t interested in engaging. In the first round, I believe there were six strikes. It’s not an easy fight. It happens sometimes.”
White definitely didn’t seem to take issue with the decision, which could be another reason why he’s not exactly upset at the outcome much less pushing to see Esparza and Namajunas meet again for a third time.
As much as Namajunas was convinced she won, White wasn’t ready to back her up because he admittedly lost interest as the fight was happening.
” I don’t know,” White stated about scoring. I started to zoning out about halfway through the book. I don’t know.”
For now Esparza can celebrate her victory while she prepares for her wedding on Saturday. She’ll probably take an interest in the fight in June between Zhang and Jedrzejczyk to decide her next opponent.