Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas did everything necessary to retain her Belt against Zhang Weili at UFC 268 and has now shifted her focus to the next possible opponent Carla Esparza.
Esparza (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) was heavily touted to be the next opponent for Namajunas (11-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) at UFC 268 before Zhang Weili (21-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) was handed the rematch by the promotion. However, the former champion fell short with a split decision.
Namajunas will look to avenge her loss to Carla Esparza, who was the winner of their first meeting with a third round submission to win the inaugural Strawweight Title at TUF 20 back in December 2014.
“She was on my mind before going into this one,” Namajunas told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at the UFC 268 post-fight news conference. “That seems sort of like the logical step, but I’ve got to see what the UFC is thinking I guess. but yeah, I would love to fight Carla.”
Unlike their first meeting which Rose Namajunas won with a first round knockout, Weili was able to take Namajunas through five rounds of competitive action at UFC 268. Rose Namajunas finished Zhang Weili with a vicious head-kick, ending the fight in the first round back in April.
Namajunas admitted, she noticed am improvement in Weili’s performance as compared to the first fight and was a little worried, the fight might not be going her way before the announcement of the result.
“It wasn’t a surprise that she made the improvements that she did,” Namajunas said. “I was pretty convinced going into the fifth round that I had won it. It was pretty close in my mind for the rest of the fight, but going into the fifth, because it was such a dominant round for me, I felt as though I won and it. I could’ve kept going even more. When they read her name off on the scorecards I was like, ‘Wait, is it going to be her, then me, then her?’ Judges, you never know what they’re going to see and it was a close fight. So I was ready for whatever.”