UFC: Rose Namajunas says she’s ready to fight in response to Dana White’s comments

One of the more anticipated UFC title matchups in 2021 was supposed to be the fight between Weili Zhang (21-1) and Rose Namajunas (9-4). Originally, this fight was supposed to take place in the first quarter of 2021.

Namajunas returned to the cage at UFC 251 where she avenged her loss to Jessica Andrade. Andrade had defeated Namajunas for the UFC strawweight title a year prior at UFC 237.

During that year-plus layoff, Andrade lost the UFC strawweight title to Zhang. Zhang and Namajunas are looked at as the top two strawweights in the world by a decent margin.

From a stylistic perspective, the fight promised to be extremely competitive. Since 2017, Namajunas had looked sensational in the UFC. Her only hiccup was getting knocked out by an Andrade slam in a fight she was dominating.

Last week, Dana White came out and put a little on water on the fire of this fight. In an interview with BT Sport, White said that he was hearing that Namajunas didn’t want the UFC strawweight title fight. 

With that in mind, the promotion would look at potentially booking Zhang against Carla Esparza. Rose Namajunas appeared in a livestream on her YouTube channel over the weekend where she addressed White’s comments.

What’s next in the UFC’s strawweight division

“I’m just ready to fight. I don’t know what’s going on, but I know you guys are ready for me to fight too. Maybe there’s a misconception out there that I’m weak minded or whatever. That’s not true. That’s what I live for. I’m the pressure cooker,” Namajunas said.

Certainly, Namajunas doesn’t sound like someone who doesn’t have the desire to fight for the UFC title. It’s worth noting that we really don’t know exactly what is going on behind the scenes with Rose’s camp and the UFC.

It’s well known that Dana White doesn’t always get involved with negotiations. A lot of the time it’s the match makers and legal teams working on fights while White focuses his time on promoting the fights that are already booked.

However, White does get involved when needed. It seems clear that White was passed along the message that Rose wasn’t interested in the title fight. However, Namajunas’ camp is adamant that isn’t true.

Both sides need to get together to resolve this issue. No disrespect to Carla Esparza, but nobody is itching to see her fight for the UFC title at the moment. The fight to make is Zhang against Namajunas.

I’ll be curious to see how this situation plays out over the next few weeks. If they figure this out, I would expect the UFC strawweight title fight to take place in either March or April.

Per Dana White, Rose Namajunas doesn’t want the next UFC title shot

For the last couple of months, fans have been anticipating the next UFC strawweight title fight. The fight was expected to be Weili Zhang (21-1) and Rose Namajunas (9-4). A fight that would truly pair the best two strawweights in the world.

Namajunas was the reigning UFC strawweight champion prior to her loss to Jessica Andrade. In that title defense, Namajunas was winning until she was slammed and knocked out by Jessica Andrade.

Andrade would go on to lose her first UFC title defense to Zhang. Namajunas was very vocal about being relieved when she lost and that she didn’t like the pressures and anxiety that came with being UFC champion.

However, she found that fighting spirit again in 2020 and she got back in the cage. She took on Andrade and was able to avenge her loss which was supposed to setup the anticipated title fight with Zhang.

The promotion has been saying that was the fight they were going to make. However, Dana White changed his tune in an interview with BT Sport. White said, “What I’m hearing is Rose does not want a title shot. She doesn’t want to fight for the title.”

What is the UFC going to do?

After this, Rose Namajunas’ fiancé/head coach told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that the information from Dana White was false. Pat Berry told Helwani that Namajunas definitely wants the UFC title shot.

However, White doesn’t seem to think so. White would go on to say in the interview that Carla Esparza (17-6) is the fight they are currently looking at for Weili Zhang. No disrespect to Esparza, but nobody really wants to see that fight.

Yes, Esparza is on a four-fight winning streak, however, none of those were that incredibly impressive. Her last two wins were razor close split decisions that many had going the other way.

This is not a high profile UFC strawweight title fight. Zhang – Namajunas is the fight to make, however, if the UFC can’t come to a deal, they will move on. Looks like they have a plan in place. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation shakes out.

UFC: Weili Zhang – Rose Namajunas targeted for Q1 2021

One of the more anticipated matchups in any of the UFC‘s female divisions is the next title match in the strawweight division. We already know that champion, Weili Zhang (21-1), will be taking on former UFC champion, Rose Namajunas (9-4).

However, the timeline for the fight has been up in the air. After Namajunas defeated Jessica Andrade back at UFC 251, it was announced that she would need to take some time off to get surgery.

Of course, Zhang has been sidelined in China due to the pandemic. All of these factors have delayed the inevitable showdown between the two. We have not seen Zhang since her Fight of the Year performance against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248.

By the time Zhang competes next, it would have been almost a year layoff for the champion. Her coach conducted an interview with MMA Fighting recently where he talked through the timeline of the UFC title fight.

“We’ll see how things go with this virus,” Pedro Jordao told MMA Fighting. “But I think probably be in the first quarter. We’re training for a while here. It appears that her next fight will be against Rose, but nothing is set yet. Everything indicates that’s the plan.”

UFC Strawweight Title

I think I can speak for most fans in saying that this is arguably the most exciting matchup in the UFC‘s strawweight division. Namajunas and Zhang are the two best in the world at 115 and I think there’s a gap between them and the pack.

Namajunas looked incredibly sharp at UFC 251 in the first couple of rounds. However, she ran into some major trouble in the third round with Jessica Andrade. Namajunas was rocked and hurt badly by the former champion.

However, she still did enough to get the decision. Zhang had an absolute war with Jedrzejczyk last March. It was really the first time in her UFC career that Zhang had been pushed to the limit.

Nevertheless, Zhang was able to get the unanimous decision victory. She’s sensational and should be the big favorite going into the title fight with Namajunas. However, Namajunas has world class skills that could give Zhang some problems in their matchup.

This fight is so exciting for a number of different reasons. While Zhang is clearly the more powerful fighter, Namajunas has extremely clean and crisp technique on her feet. I’m fascinated to see the gameplans for both fighters whenever they clash.

State of the UFC’s strawweight division

Last night at UFC Vegas 13, a new contender emerged in the strawweight division. Eighth ranked Yan Xiaonan defeated fourth ranked Claudia Gadelha. Xiaonan became just the third women in UFC history begin her career at 6-0 with the victory.

She did a fantastic job last night of showing off her beautiful striking from distance. While Gadelha was able to take her down in the first round and control her, Xiaonan bounced back in the final two rounds to really dominate the striking and win the decision.

As stated, it was the sixth straight UFC victory for the Chinese born strawweight. The UFC‘s China market has taken off over the last couple of years and a major contributor to that is the current strawweight champion, Weili Zhang.

You have to imagine that the promotion is already daydreaming about a potential matchup between Zhang and Xiaonan. That would easily be the biggest fight in the history of Chinese MMA. With last night’s victory, Xiaonan is perhaps only one more win away from securing that shot.

With the win, Xiaonan is expected to jump into the top five of the UFC‘s rankings while Gadelha will drop a little. The division is very exciting right now and it seems extremely fluid when it comes to the top contenders.

What’s the state of the UFC’s strawweight division?

Starting at the top, you have Zhang. Zhang has become a superstar for the promotion and was the first Chinese born UFC champion in history. This year, she had what many are considering to be the fight of the year against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

It was an absolute war and Zhang walked away with the decision. The next fight for the UFC champion seems pretty obvious. Currently, the promotion is targeting a fight between her and former UFC champion, Rose Namajunas. That fight is expected to take place next year.

After those two, the division gets interesting. You have Jedrzejczyk ranked second, however, her next steps aren’t clear. She flirted with retirement, but recently said that she would be fighting again but wants to wait for fans to return before she comes back.

Another former UFC champion is ranked right behind her in Carla Esparza. Esparza is currently on a four fight winning streak that has her knocking on the door for another potential UFC title shot. After Esparza you’ll have Xiaonan, Nina Ansaroff and Michelle Waterson. Tatiana Suarez is also in there, but has been inactive due to injuries.

After last night, I believe that the UFC should look to book Xiaonan against either Jedrzejczyk or Esparza. Whoever they can book her with in early 2021, I try to make that happen. Perhaps on the same card as Zhang and Namajunas with the winners facing off in the summer.

UFC Vegas 13 Preview: Claudia Gadelha – Yan Xiaonan

There is a very solid strawweight contest on tomorrow night’s UFC Vegas 13 main card. Top ten contenders Claudia Gadelha (18-4) and Yan Xiaonan (12-1) will go to war. Both of these ladies are looking to take one step closer towards the UFC title.

Yan Xiaonan is a big time prospect for the UFC. The Chinese strawweight has come out swinging in her UFC career thus far. She’s won all four of her fights inside the octagon which includes victories over Angela Hill and former title challenger, Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

The UFC is becoming increasingly popular in China. The current strawweight champion, Weili Zhang, was the first Chinese born fighter to claim gold inside the octagon. Xiaonan could be the next great fighter from China.

Standing across from her will be former title challenger Claudia Gadelha. Gadelha comes into this contest after going 3-1 in her last four fights. However, many people believe that she actually lost two of the fights that she won.

Gadelha is coming off of a very close split decision victory over Angela Hill back in May. A good amount of people do not believe that Gadelha should have had her hand raised that night. Nevertheless, she did and a win tomorrow would mean three straight wins.

UFC Vegas 13 Prediction

This is such an interesting matchup between these two ladies. It almost seems a little like the bull and the matador. To me, Gadelha has to come right out and try to pressure Xiaonan. Gadelha doesn’t do extremely well with fights that are fought at range.

She has to get on the inside if she wants to hand Xiaonan her first loss in the UFC. Likewise, Xiaonan has to keep the fight at a distance. She’s very good at striking from range and she does a fantastic job of working off of her jab.

I would expect that Gadelha will try to get this fight to the mat. While she might have a power advantage, I don’t see her having the striking advantage. In the end, I think this one stays on the feet enough over three rounds to see Xiaonan remain unbeaten in the UFC.

Prediction: Yan Xiaonan by Unanimous Decision

UFC targeting Michelle Waterson – Amanda Ribas

It looks like UFC 257 is going to be getting a fun one in the women’s strawweight division. Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the promotion is close to finalizing a matchup between two top ten strawweights as Michelle Waterson (18-8) will take on Amanda Ribas (10-1).

This one should be a really fun matchup for UFC fans. The Karate Hottie is coming off of a win in her last fight against Angela Hill. The fight was razor close at UFC Vegas 10, but in the end, Waterson was able to pull out the victory by split decision.

Since 2018, Waterson has only lost twice in the UFC. Both of those fights were against former champions, and I believe that she won the fight against Carla Esparza. Waterson is continuing her journey to try to become the first “Mom Champ” in the UFC.

If she is able to pull out the victory on January 23rd, she will be one step closer to fighting for UFC gold. However, her opponent is no cake walk. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if Ribas entered the cage on January 23rd as the betting favorite.

UFC 257 gets a good one

Ribas has stormed onto the UFC over the last 16 months. She’s 4-0 so far in her career with the UFC. In her last fight, she was able to defeat Paige VanZant by first round armbar at UFC 251. However, it was her performance against Mackenzie Dern which raised eyebrows.

Dern was being touted as a top prospect in the strawweight division. However, she was not able to get past Ribas. Ribas controlled their fight and went on to capture the decision victory handing Dern the only loss of her professional career.

Whoever wins at UFC 257 will have made a big statement to the rest of the division. If one of these ladies is able to put on an incredible performance, they could be only a fight or two away from getting a shot at the title.

UFC books Angela Hill – Tecia Torres rematch (Reports)

UFC 256 is getting a really solid strawweight contest added to it’s card. According to multiple reports, Angela Hill (12-9) is going to be taking on Tecia Torres (11-5) in a rematch. The two strawweights first fought back at UFC 188.

2020 was shaping up to be a big time year for Angela Hill, however, it’s taken a turn. After defeating Ariane Carnelossi back in September of 2019, Hill opened 2020 with back-to-back UFC wins in the first two months of the year. She rode that momentum into a shot at former title challenger Claudia Gadelha.

It was a very close fight that many believed Hill should have won. However, two of the three judges gave the fight to Gadelha at UFC on ESPN 8. Hill then turned around and got a last minute main event slot against the Karate Hottie, Michelle Waterson.

In a fight that would turn out to be a classic, Hill was once again defeated by split decision. I had the fight scored for Waterson, but many believed that Hill should have won. Had Hill been given those two decisions, she could have been in UFC title contention.

Tecia Torres was able to snap her four fight losing streak back in June. Torres took on and defeated Brianna Van Buren by unanimous decision. A fifth straight loss could have spelled the end of Torres’ current run in the UFC.

UFC Redemption

These two ladies rank 11th and 12th in the UFC‘s strawweight rankings. A loss for either would really hurt their chances moving forward while a victory would get them moving back in the right direction. A lot is on the line at UFC 256.

For Angela Hill, this is a golden opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. She can right the wrong of the last couple of decisions, and she can get back her first loss to Torres. Torres won their first fight by unanimous decision.

This is a very solid strawweight contest that has been added to a very good card at UFC 256. The card is being headlined by the greatest female fighter of all time in Amanda Nunes, however, these two ladies should put on a show in their fight.

Claudia Gadelha out of UFC 253 (Reports)

One of the more anticipated matchups in the UFC‘s strawweight division for the fall has been cancelled. Per Combate and MMA Fighting, Claudia Gadelha (18-4) has been forced to withdrawal from her UFC 253 matchup against Yan Xiaonan (12-1-1).

Gadelha was riding a two fight winning streak going into UFC 253. The former title challenger was looking to make it three in a row inside the octagon. Gadehla is trying to climb the latter towards another shot at the gold. This is the second time Gadelha has had to deal with a knee injury.

UFC’s Next Steps

This is tough news for the tenth ranked fighter in the strawweight division, Xiaonan. She has gone 5-0 since joining the UFC with wins over Angela Hill and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. A win over Gadeha would be the biggest win of her career.

The UFC is building a very solid presence in their Asian markets on the shoulders of their first Asian champion, Weili Zhang. Xiaonan is another great fighter that has come out of China to show how good their talent pool is.

One has to think that the UFC would love to build up Xiaonan to the point of having her contend for the title. Xiaonan could be another bright spot for the promotion in their Asian markets.

This fight was a big fight to see exactly where Xiaonan was in her journey to be a top contender. There is no word on if the UFC will look to book Xiaonan against someone else or if they will just wait for Gadelha to heal up.

UFC: Did Joanna Jedrzejczyk retire?

You cannot mention the greatest female fighters in UFC history without considering former strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). Before the strawweight division really took off, Jedrzejczyk built the division and reined supreme for years.

Jedrzejczyk has gone 0-4 in her last four attempts at UFC gold with her last chance coming against Weili Zhang (21-1). Their fight at UFC 248 is likely the fight of the year and was razor close. It’s clear Jedrzejczyk is still one of the best, but has she hung up her gloves?

Former UFC Champ – “33 and Retired”

Jedrzejczyk took to Instagram over the weekend and posted a photo of her on vacation in Bulgaria. An interesting read is the first hashtage where the former champion stated that she was, “33 and retired.”

Obviously we haven’t heard any confirmation on this as of now. Jedrzejczyk could walk away from the sport now with nothing to prove.

Jedrzejczyk is a hall of famer in my book. After becoming the second ever UFC strawweight champion, Jedrzejczyk defended the title successfully five times over the course of two years.

Jedrzejczyk was an active and dominant champion before losing to the title to “Thug” Rose Namajunas at UFC 217. I think that Jedrzejczyk still has plenty of fight left in her, but again, there’s nothing left for her to prove.

I think her fight in February shows that she’s still at the top of the sport. Zhang is considered on the Nunes/Shevchenko level by most. But, Jedrzejczyk is right there with a lot of people thinking she won that split decision over Zhang.

It’ll be something to pay attention to in the next few weeks to see if we get any confirmation on the topic. Jedrzejczyk has given us great fights over the last five years, and maybe she’s just ready to enjoy life outside the cage.