Carla Esparza thought she had fought her way back into a title fight, but UFC matchmakers opted to do a rematch between champion Rose Namajuanas and former titleholder Zhang Weili instead.
Namajunas became the first female fighter in UFC history to win back a title when she knocked out Weili at UFC 261 in April in just 78 seconds. Esparza defeated Namajunas to become the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champion at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in December 2014.
Esparza would lose the belt in her first title defense against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Namajunas earned her first title by defeating Jedrzejczyk. She defended the title once before losing to Jessica Anddrade. Weili defeated Andrade in Andrade’s first title defense. In her second title defense, Weili lost the title to Namajunas.
With Namajunas’ win over Weili being so dramatic and fast, an immediately rematch wasn’t the obvious fight to make. Esparza is on a five-fight winning streak. She holds a championship fight win over Namajunas and is ranked no.3 in the division.
The fight promotion recently made the official announcement that Namajunas will face Weili in a rematch on Nov. 6 on the UFC 268 fight card. On Tuesday, Esparza reacted to not getting the title shot via Instagram.
“I’ve worked many years to fight my way back to a title shot. I have faith good things will come, and in the meantime I will use this time to strength build and skill build! May the best woman win… I got next,” she wrote.
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