Weili Zhang vs. Rose Namajunas is no longer a sure thing 1

Weili Zhang vs. Rose Namajunas seemed like the title fight that the UFC would make in the women’s strawweight division in 2021, but recent comments from Dana White suggest that it’s looking more unlikely by the minute.

“What I’m hearing is Rose does not want a title shot,” White told BT Sport. “She doesn’t want to fight for the title. So we’ll see how that all plays out.”

Namajunas’ fiancé and coach Pat Barry refuted that claim, stating “that is absolutely not true,” when speaking with ESPN. “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.”

In this video, Patrick Auger and Drake Riggs discuss this latest news and look ahead at what might be coming for Weili Zhang if it’s not Rose Namajunas next.

Riggs says that the UFC could be frustrated that Namajunas is taking a long time to be ready for the fight. The UFC has given Namajunas plenty of time already, and the promotion surely wants to turn Weili Zhang around sooner than later. We can only speculate on the reasons, but there could be issues with money or travel. Importantly, this is a really strange position for Sucker Punch, the management firm representing champion Weili Zhang and contenders Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza.

Auger feels like that was the fight to make, but it’s going to get strange now. Esparza will jump at the chance, and now Sucker Punch will need to manage their clients. He says, typically, Rose hasn’t been bullied by the UFC and has been able to stand firm.

If we were to put odds on this fight happening:

Riggs has it at 50/50 and says it’s genuinely a coinflip from here on out.

Auger has the fight happening at a 40 percent chance. They need a fight for Weili, and Rose is known not to budge.

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One Comment

  1. IMO, who gets the fight first among the top contenders is who can face Weili soonest. If Rose agrees to take it shortly, that’s my preference. If Carla or even JJ, can take it sooner, I’m good with either of them. Carla has the record, and having participated in one of the greatest fights, if not THE greatest fights in WMMA, JJ has certainly earned a rematch. Barring an injury, Weili strikes me as a fighter that would like to fight as frequently as possible. so whoever is not taken first, should not have to wait that long for their opportunity. I think the UFC is saving Yan for a fight in China which may take some time. I do think that given the nature of her injury and the length of time she’s been out of action, Tatiana should take a tune up fight before facing either Weili or JJ.