Former UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza is cautiously optimistic that she’ll be the next challenger to current champion Rose Namajunas following her dominant victory over Yan Xiaonan at UFC Vegas 27.

Despite finishing Xiaonan in the second round by TKO in a completely one-sided affair, UFC president Dana White was non-committal during his post-fight interview about who will fight Namajunas next; whether that be Esparza or recently-dethroned champion Zhang Weili.

Esparza has been on a roll since falling to Tatiana Suarez at UFC 228, having won five straight bouts. During a recent interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Esparza voiced her disappointment that White didn’t name Esparza as the clear-cut favorite to be Namajunas’ next opponent later this year.

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“I know he was definitely impressed with the fight,” Esparza said. “But you want to hear those words ‘You got the fight, it’s your fight’. So until I hear those words, I’m not going to count my chickens before they hatch. But I’m hopeful.”

“There are talks of it going to Weili too, but that fight doesn’t make sense. It’s not like she’s had 5-10 title defenses and she lost in a fluke. I don’t think she’s in a place to ask for an immediate rematch, but I think she’s a great fighter.”

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Namajunas knocked out Weili at UFC 261 by a head kick to reclaim the belt after losing it to Jessica Andrade back at UFC 237. Weili then earned the strawweight belt by knocking out Andrade at UFC Fight Night 157 followed by an all-time great win against Joanna Jędrzejczyk in her first and only successful title defense as champion.

Esparza and Namajunas have a bit of history with each other stemming from their time on The Ultimate Fighter Season 20, in which Esparza earned the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight title bout by submission in the season finale. Esparza and Namajunas are both credited by the masses for helping bring the women’s strawweight division to the spot it is today as one of the deepest in mixed martial arts.

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Whether or not Esparza will get the next title shot remains to be seen, but a rematch between her and Namajunas would be extremely entertaining and a big fight for women’s MMA in general.

Do you think Carla Esparza should get the next women’s strawweight title fight against Rose Namajunas?

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Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.