Carla Esparza has her sights set on a UFC title fight right now but she hasn’t forgotten about avenging one particularly tough fight from her past.
In the six years since that fight happened, Esparza has remained near the top of the 115-pound division and with her current five-fight win streak, she’s already considered the No. 1 contender to face champion Rose Namajunas next.
That said, Esparza — the No. 3-ranked strawweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings — knows she has unfinished business with Jedrzejczyk and she anxiously awaits her opportunity to get revenge in a rematch.
“I think at some point in my career, I’ve never actually had a rematch with anybody let alone coming off a loss,” Esparza said about Jedrzejczyk when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I think I’m a very different fighter from when that fight happened.
“I definitely at some point would like to fight her again. I think it would be a much different fight.”
On that night, Jedrzejczyk lost a razor-close split decision to Zhang Weili with the strawweight title on the line and she was gunning for another shot at gold but no offer was ever made to her.
Esparza has no problem facing Jedrzejczyk again but she’s not going to jump into any other fights until it’s crystal clear that she won’t be Namajunas’ next opponent.
Prior to UFC 268 taking place where Zhang lost a split decision to Namajunas in an immediate rematch after they first clashed back in April, Esparza thought she had already done more than enough to warrant a title shot but she was ultimately passed over.
“I thought for me the best was Rose and I fighting and then Weili and Joanna fighting for a No. 1 contender’s spot,” Esparza explained. “I thought that’s what really made sense in my fan brain of exciting matchups and what makes sense.
“I would definitely fight [Joanna] again. You want to be at the top, you’ve got to earn your way there.”
As much as Esparza anticipates an eventual rematch with Jedrzejczyk, her only hope right now is that she’ll get the chance to face Namajunas again with the strawweight title on the line.
More than anything, Esparza wants to get another fight in before next May, which is when she plans to have her wedding and she would love to enjoy a honeymoon off a big win.
“That’s the ultimate goal right now,” Esparza said about fighting for the title. “It’s hard to think outside of that box but I’m down to fight whoever. Just hopefully I get to fight before my wedding.”