It appears we finally have the strawweight championship rematch we’ve all been waiting for, and that’s Rose Namajunas vs Carla Esparza II.
It is to serve as the co-main event at UFC 274, headlined by a lightweight championship bout between current champion Charles Oliveira and former interim champion Justin Gaethje.
Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas for this same title back in 2014, where they competed for the inaugural UFC strawweight championship after each of them went 3-0 on The Ultimate Fighter 20.
Though Esparza upset Namajunas via rear naked choke in round three, she’d lose her title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her very next bout. Jedrzejczyk then went on a legendary streak, while Esparza would go 3-3 over her next six bouts.
On the other hand, we had Namajunas, who went 4-1 en route to her first clash with Jedrzejczyk, only losing a very close split decision to Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
‘Thug Rose’ then pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport to capture the title, a fight she was just 6-3 going into, while the champion was 14-0.
She followed her first-round knockout up with a unanimous decision victory in the rematch, before losing it to Jessica Andrade via KO (slam) midway through round two, a fight she was absolutely dominating.
Once returning 14 months later, Namajunas would avenge her defeat to Andrade, before KO’ing new champion Weili Zhang in just 78 seconds, and again, defending it in an immediate rematch via five-round decision.
We’ve seen some recurring things in Namajunas’ career. ‘Thug Rose’ fought three opponents in her last six fights. She fought Jedrzejczyk in back-to-back fights, then Andrade back-to-back, and then Zhang back-to-back.
But, this isn’t necessarily new blood, as these two have shared the octagon once before.
Esparza, since her 3-3 streak that brought her UFC record to 4-4, has gone 5-0 over her last five, capping it off with a TKO victory over Yan Xiaonan last May, just her second finish inside the octagon.
The first of course was over Namajunas.
She is 1-0 against her, it’s honestly surprising it’s taken this long to rebook this fight.
With Namajunas’ ever-evolving stand up game and her nasty grappling, mix that with Esparza’s wrestling and we’ve got a high level title fight!
Who do you see walking away the champion at UFC 274, the champion, or former champion?
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.