This past Saturday at UFC 274, the strawweight title was on the line in a rematch from the innagural strawweight title fight. The rematch featured Rose Namajunas (11-5) taking on Carla Esparza (19-6).
Back in 2014, Esparza submitted Namajunas to become the first ever UFC strawweight champion. Immediately in 2015, Esparza dropped the title and she’s been scratching and clawing her way back since then.
Namajunas went on to become one of the best female pound-for-pound fighters in the world and became the first two-time champion. Esparza was trying to become a two-time champion herself at UFC 274.
While many were hyped for the fight, the fight fell well short of expectations. I mean let’s call it like it is, the fight absolutely sucked on Saturday. Throughout the course of five rounds, we mainly saw Namajunas circling on the outside and throwing feints.
Meanwhile Esparza would at least try to engage, but was ineffective for the most part. That said, she did get a couple of brief takedowns which swung a couple of rounds. Those proved to be pivotal as the night ended in a split decision. When the scorecards were read, Carla Esparza was declared the winner and the new UFC strawweight champion.
What’s next after UFC 274?
Fights like Saturday night are why MMA is the most exciting and unpredictable sport in the world. Rose Namajunas is a combined 5-1 against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Zhang Weili, and Jessica Andrade. Yet, she is now 0-2 against Carla Esparza.
That is just wild to me. I’m really not trying to disrespect Esparza, but I don’t believe she’s better than any of the three contenders listed in Namajunas’ resume. Yet, she’s defeated Thug Rose twice and now she’s the UFC strawweight champion for a second time.
So, what’s next for the champ? Well, Dana White hinted at it at the post-fight press conference on Saturday night. Next month, Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will be rematching at UFC 275.
Whoever wins that fight is likely getting the next title shot. Marina Rodriguez is another contender with an outside chance, but I don’t see that happening. In my opinion, I think Rodriguez and Andrade might get paired up next.
So what about the former champion in Namajunas? Well, Thug Rose is 0-2 and after that last fight, nobody is asking for the rematch. Namajunas will need another win before she gets a crack at becoming a three-time UFC champion.