clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rose Namajunas ‘would love’ Carla Esparza trilogy but doesn’t want to subject fans to another ‘snoozefest’

MMA: MAY 07 UFC 274 Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rose Namajunas has mixed feelings about facing Carla Esparza a third time.

“Thug” and “Cookie Monster” squared off for the second time in their respective careers this past May 2022 at UFC 274. In doing so, the pair put on what is widely considered one of the worst mixed martial arts (MMA) fights of all time. Entering as the champion, Namajunas departed without the title, losing a split decision to her first UFC successor (watch highlights).

Next weekend (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022), UFC 281 plays host to Esparza’s first title defense of her second reign. Standing in her way will be another former champion, Zhang Weili, as the two battle with Namajunas watching closely. Ideally, Namajunas wants to recapture the title at some point, but after going 0-2 against Esparza, there are some admitted reservations.

LIVE! Watch UFC 298 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

WORLD FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Sat., Feb. 17, 2024, for the first time in more than two years with its latest pay-per-view (PPV) show. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV main event, reigning Featherweight roost-ruler, Alexander Volkanovski, will defend his 145-pound strap against undefeated surging Spanish contender, Ilia Topuria. In addition, former Middleweight kingpin, Robert Whittaker, will finally square off with mercurial mauler, Paulo Costa, in UFC 298’s co-feature. UFC 298 will also feature the returns of Ian Garry, Geoff Neal, Henry Cejudo, Merab Dvalishvili and so much more!

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

“I’ll be watching,” Namajunas told Sports Illustrated. “I’m very excited for those ladies to be fighting at Madison Square Garden. I hope it’s going to be more exciting than the last [title] fight.

“Of course, I would [want a third fight against Esparza],” she added. “I don’t know if I’d want to subject the fans to that. It was a snoozefest last time. But if that opportunity comes up, I would love that.”

Namajunas remains sidelined at present, focusing on the upcoming release of her latest documentary, Thug Rose: Mixed Martial Artist. With a return to action in 2023 looming at some point, Namajunas will likely need at least one win before challenging for the title again regardless of who’s holding the title.

If she can eventually reign supreme once more, Namajunas will join the legendary status of Randy Couture as the only two UFC champions to have three title runs.

“I’m always a champion, but having the belt is always better than not having the belt,” Namajunas said. “Once you achieve the title of champion, it’s always a daily journey to being your best.”


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 281 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard (on ESPNEWS/ESPN+) at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 281: “Adesanya vs. Pereira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania