Sunday, February 28, 2021

Dana White: Rose Doesn’t Want Title; Esparza May Be Next for Zhang

According to Dana White, Rose Namajunas is not ready to hold UFC gold again.

Rose Namajunas became the UFC strawweight champion when she defeated Joanna Jędrzejczyk in an upset victory at UFC 217. Five months later, Namajunas would again defeat Jędrzejczyk, this time to retain the belt, but it came at a heavy cost. It was during the week of this event that Namajunas suffered a traumatic experience as a result of Conor McGregor and company attacking the fighter bus with a dolly while Namajunas was onboard. This experience coupled with Namajunas recovering from a C6 vertebral compression fracture led to an extended break from fighting.

When Namajunas returned, she dropped the title to Jessica Andrade at UFC 237 after a vicious slam by Andrade. Following this loss, Namajunas has been able to bounce back by defeating Andrade in a rematch at UFC 251, which seemed to put her at the front of the line to challenge Weili Zhang. However, Dana White claims that the former champion does not want this opportunity.

“What I’m hearing is: Rose does not want a title shot,” White said in an interview with BT Sport. “Rose does not want to fight for a title.”

When presented with the idea that this decision from Namajunas could be because of the pressure of being the champion, Dana White was quick to agree.

“I don’t think she did,” White said when asked if Rose liked the pressure of being world champion. “So we’ll see how that all plays out. If you look at the rankings and how it plays out, it would play out Weili vs. Carla Esparza.”

Following the interview, Namajunas’ fiancé and coach Pat Berry disputed Dana White’s version of events to ESPN:

“That is absolutely not true,” Barry said. “We absolutely want the title fight. Who would turn down a title fight? We just don’t want to air this out publicly. If there was some confusion, they can call us to clear it up.”

Weili Zhang last defended her championship in March against Joanna Jędrzejczyk in what was a battle for the ages. The presumptive opponent for her next defense has been Rose Namajunas, but it will take Dana White and the Namajunas camp getting on the same page for this vision to actualize.

What are your thoughts on Dana White’s claim that Rose Namajunas does not want a title shot?