With five wins in a row capped off by the TKO stoppage over Yan, Esparza had seemingly done more than enough to earn that opportunity, especially considering she holds a past win over Namajunas from their previous meeting in 2014.
On that night, Esparza submitted Namajunas to become the first ever UFC strawweight champion but despite that past win and her dominant finish on Saturday night, it still may not be enough to get a second shot at UFC gold.
That’s according to UFC president Dana White, who was very impressed by Esparza’s win but he’s still not ready to pull the trigger on a rematch with Namajunas with former champion Zhang Weili also still lurking in the shadows.
“She looked like a beast tonight,” White said about Esparza on the UFC Vegas 27 post-fight show. “She came out and absolutely dominated. You can tell by the way she was fighting that she was trying to make a statement. Statement made. Message received. We see you.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do next. If we do the rematch [witih Zhang Weili] or if we give it to her.”
It’s tough to figure out how Esparza would get skipped over for the title shot considering her previous win over Namajunas coupled with the victory against Yan on Saturday night. Add to that, Zhang only had a single title defense on her resume before she suffered a first round knockout loss to Namajunas back in April.
For now, White will continue to contemplate the best path forward with nothing yet determined for Namajunas’ next fight now that she’s a two-time strawweight champion.