UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas will defend her title against former champion Carla Esparza at an upcoming card in 2022, although no specific event or date has been set.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the pairing to ESPN on Monday.
“Carla Esparza,” White told ESPN when asked who was next for Namajunas. “100 percent.”
White’s decision is now the complete opposite of when he was not initially a fan of giving Esparza a title shot opportunity after he criticized her for turning down a fight with Mackenzie Dern in favor of waiting for a title opportunity.
Now that the landscape has changed it seems certain the Esparza and Namajunas will rematch for the title in the next calendar year.
The two ladies first fought on the Ultimate Fighter Season 20 Finale in December 2014 with Esparza coming out on top by way of third round submission and claiming the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight championship.
Since then, Namajunas has claimed the title twice, first defeating Joanna Jędrzejczyk whom Esparza initially lost the title to, and then Weili Zhang who had taken the title away from Jessica Andrade.
Esparza is currently riding a five-fight win-streak with victories over Virna Jandiroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez, and Xiaonan Yan.
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