UFC president Dana White has said that former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas doesn’t want to fight Weili Zhang for the title next, so Carla Esparza could get the next title shot instead.
Zhang (21-1) made the first defense of her strawweight title in March winning a decision against Joanna Jędrzejczyk in arguably the greatest fight in women’s MMA history and a frontrunner for 2020’s Fight of the Year. The champion’s next potential opponent and the division’s first ever champion Esparza (17-6) has won her last four fights, all by decision.
Talking recently to BT Sport, White told Caroline Pearce that Esparza will be next in line for Zhang.
“What I’m hearing is Rose does not want a title shot. Rose does not want to fight for the title. So we’re looking at the rankings and how it plays out, it would play out as Weili vs. Carla Esparza.”
White’s words were disputed however by Namajunas’ fiance and coach Pat Barry. The former UFC heavyweight and kickboxer told Ariel Helwani that Namajunas has not turned down a title shot and does want a fight against “Magnum.”
“That is absolutely not true. We absolutely want the title fight,” Barry said. “Who would turn down a title fight? We just don’t want to air this out publicly. If there was some confusion they can call us to clear it up.”
Since losing the belt to Jessica Andrade last year, Namajunas (9-4) has since avenged her loss to the Brazilian winning a decision against her in July at UFC 251.
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