Daniel Cormier says Carla Esparza deserves title shot but “having earned something doesn’t always equate to getting it”

Former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier believes Carla Esparza should be next in line to challenge Rose Namajunas for the strawweight title.

Esparza defeated Namajunas via submission by way of rear-naked choke on the TUF 20 finale to become the first ever UFC strawweight champion in December 2014, but subsequently lost the title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185.

Fast forward to 2021, Esparza is currently enjoying a five fight winning streak, most recently coming off of a second round TKO victory against Yan Xiaonan at UFC Vegas 27, and has not suffered a loss since 2019.

Cormier spoke about Esparza’s qualification to be up next for the strawweight fight and reminisced on the first time Esparza faced Namajunas for the strawweight belt back in 2014.

“Carla has done everything she has needed to do and honestly, she beat Rose Namajunas,” Cormier said on DC & Helwani. “She dominated Rose Namajunas, and that first fight off ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, it wasn’t like it was close. She beat her up. She took her down over and over again and beat her up.” 

Cormier also brought up whether or not Weili Zhang would get the rematch against Namajunas for the strawweight title ahead of Esparza.

“With who Zhang Weili became as the champion, I don’t know if that’s a bad fight in terms of the rematch because the fight was so quick,” Cormier said. “You don’t know if Zhang Weili just got caught. But for me personally, I’m tuning in to watch Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza. Honestly, I’m tuning in to watch Rose Namajunas fight anybody.”

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‘DC’ went on to say that despite the fact that Esparza deserves the title shot, it does not necessarily mean she is going to get it.

“I’m not saying that [Esparza] is undeserving,” Cormier said. “But yes, Carla has earned [it]. But just having earned something doesn’t always equate to getting it in the UFC.”

Regardless of whether Zhang or Esparza gets the title shot next, Namajunas has an intriguing matchup and storyline with either strawweight contender.