Esparza started her second UFC strawweight title reign with mixed emotions. ‘The Cookie Monster’ and Namajunas received heavy backlash because of their lackluster performances, which featured 68 total strikes landed through five rounds.
During an interview with Brian Campbell of Mortal Kombat, Esparza was asked about the rematch against Namajunas and had this to say:
“It is what it is. You had these kinda two conflicting game plans. I guess. You know, of course, I wanted to go forward, and I think that I did, but I wasn’t going to be reckless with a fighter like Rose, who’s basically like a sharpshooter when it comes to knockouts. I think she was kind of waiting for me to lose my patience, and get wild, which didn’t happen. Rose and I have together in our first fight and in just the past have put on a lot of exciting fights.”
Esparza’s special moment was met with disappointed fans, including some booing during the decision announcement. ‘The Cookie Monster’ had this to say when asked about her moment being taken away:
“It’s definitely a bummer to win a fight like that. Winning a title that’s always going to be a good day. Right? Winning any fight. Not being able to just have like this strong performance or this strong finish or just show all the work you’ve been putting in camp, it is a bummer, and you know, obviously, the fans were disappointed. It did definitely put a little bit of a cloud over the moment, but that’s the right I can make in this fight. I’m excited to put it all on the line.”
The UFC strawweight champion has an opportunity to flip the script against Weili Zhang at UFC 281. ‘Magnum’ looks to ride the momentum of retiring Joanna Jedrzeczyk, but Esparza shouldn’t be underestimated because of her last performance.
IT'S #UFC281 FIGHT WEEK 🤩
🏆 Adesanya 🆚 Pereira
🏆 Esparza 🆚 Zhang
🔥 Poirier 🆚 Chandler
🤩 Plus Molly McCann, Frankie Edgar, Dan Hooker, Dominick Reyes
UFC at MSG is straight 🔥 pic.twitter.com/zJ9Za75EMy
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) November 7, 2022
Watch Brian Campbell of Morning Kombat Interview Carla Esparza below:
Carla Esparza believes Rose Namajunas deserves another shot at the strawweight title
Despite her many exciting finishes and contribution to the strawweight division, MMA fans seemed to flip on Rose Namajunas after UFC 274. Carla Esparza has also been turned on, but being a UFC champion deserves respect no matter what.
During the same interview with Brian Campbell, Esparza had this to say about fighting Rose Namajunas for a third time if both win their next fight:
“I don’t think it would surprise me. If anybody deserves another shot at it, it’s her. Look at how much she’s done for this division… I don’t think her story’s over. Do I know if our paths will meet again? I don’t know, but does she deserve it? I mean, sure.”
Namajunas does not have her next fight booked, but the widespread understanding is that ‘Thug Rose’ is always one win away from fighting for the strawweight title. Meanwhile, Esparza has a tough test at UFC 281 before thinking about other strawweight contenders. Zhang is continuing to evolve and looks like a force to be reckoned with moving forward.