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Rose Namajunas sets sights on end of summer title defense vs. Carla Esparza

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Esparza v Namajunas Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Rose Namajunas intends on being a bit more active than in recent years ... and she plans on kicking that off with some redemption.

Ariel Helwani reported earlier today (Tues., March. 8, 2022) that Namajunas is eying a return to action no later than summer time. As expected, that would be against her old foe and the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza.

“Rose Namajunas is hoping to return by the end of the summer ... latest,” Helwani tweeted. “She is itching to get back in there. And it’ll definitely be Carla Esparza next. She is hoping to fight twice this year, if all goes well.”

Both Namajunas and Esparza’s UFC debuts came against each other after winning their ways through The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20. In the end, it would be the experienced No. 1 seed and former Invicta Fighting Championship champion in Esparza who bested the then 2-1 “Thug” to become UFC’s first 115-pound champion. Namajunas was forced to submit to a third round rear-naked choke in the Dec. 2014 meeting.

Nearly one decade later and Namajunas is now a two-time titleholder and the current queenpin with Esparza on her best stretch since holding the belt herself. “Cookie Monster” last competed in May 2021 with a dominant second round technical knockout win over Yan Xiaonan that extended her current win streak to five in a row (watch highlights).

As for Namajunas, she reclaimed the title last year with a stunning 78-second head kick knockout of Zhang Weili at UFC 261 (watch highlights). Namajunas successfully defended the title in their immediate rematch with a split decision at UFC 268 in November. Dating back to her first title win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Namajunas has fought three opponents in six fights with 2021 acting as her only year competing twice since 2017.