Carla Esparza: UFC Fight Night 188 dominance should secure Rose Namajunas title rematch

LAS VEGAS – Carla Esparza believes she should be up next to fight for the UFC strawweight title.

The way the former title holder sees it, she’s done enough to get the next shot. Esparza (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) thinks the latest performance in her winning streak, a second-round TKO of Yan Xiaonan on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 188, should get her a rematch with champion Rose Namajunas.

“I belive so, (but) nothing is secure until you sign on that dotted line and you hear from Dana,” Esparza said in her post-fight news conference. “But in my mind, yeah (I earned the title shot).”

Esparza’s co-main event win over Xiaonan was her fifth consecutive victory. What’s most impressive was that Esparza picked up her first stoppage win since wining the inaugural UFC strawweight belt in 2014 when she submitted Namajunas.

Esparza said the focus for the fight was beyond getting just her hand raised.

“I definitely saw myself getting the finish in the fight,” said Esparza, who earned a $50,000 performance bonus. “I’ve been working a lot on getting the passes and securing those finishes. I feel like I’ve had the jiu-jitsu for a long time, but I’ve been kind of content staying in the guard and coasting these wins. I knew to secure hopefully a title shot I had to start getting some finishes.”

It’s uncertain if Esparza will get the next shot at Namajunas, but she’s close. UFC president Dana White was impressed by Esparza’s performance and said she could be the next challenger depending if the promotion books an immediate rematch between Namajunas and Zhang Weili.

China’s Weili lost the belt to Namajunas last month at UFC 261.