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Dana White: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Zhang Weili 2 winner will ‘definitely’ fight for UFC title next, not Marina Rodriguez

UFC 274: Oliveira v Gaethje Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Dana White has raised the stakes for UFC 275.

The UFC president revealed on Tuesday that the winner of the rematch between former 115-pound champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili is set to become the next challenger for two-time UFC strawweight queen Carla Esparza.

“Whoever wins this will definitely fight Esparza for the title,” White told The Underground ahead of UFC 275.

“I’m sure [Esparza] will be watching this Saturday closely and will be ready to roll with whoever wins.”

Esparza captured the belt in May with a split decision victory over Rose Namajunas at UFC 274. The 34-year-old veteran has won a career-best six consecutive bouts.

Her upset of Namajunas flipped the makeup of the division on its head, allowing both Jedrzejczyk and Weili chances to slip back into title contention despite owning two losses each to Namajunas. It also meant Marina Rodriguez — a winner of four straight bouts and MMA Fighting’s current No. 5 ranked strawweight in the world — will have to fight again rather than being awarded the title shot she has campaigned to receive.

“She’s right there. These things happen,” White said of Rodriguez. “Timing is everything.”

Jedrzejczyk and Esparza have a history, of course. The former defeated the latter via vicious second-round knockout back in 2015 to end Esparza’s first reign as UFC champion.

Jedrzejczyk has been sidelined since her first meeting with Zhang in March 2020 at UFC 248, a bout that is widely considered to be one the greatest fights in MMA history. And though White admitted he doesn’t expect Saturday’s rematch to live up to that historic performance, he’s still eager to see who emerges as the division’s next No. 1 contender.

“I don’t know how you top the first fight, to even put that kind of pressure on the fight itself,” White said. “But they’re both absolute savages. It should be a great fight.”