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Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza to Co-Main Event UFC 274

The long awaited rematch between UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas and former champion Carla Esparza finally has a date.

First reported by Sports Illustrated, Namajunas is expected to defend her title against Esparza in the co-main event of UFC 274 on May 7. Emanating from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ, UFC 274 is to be headlined by a lightweight championship showdown between titleholder Charles Oliveira and #1 contender Justin Gaethje

Rose Namajunas (11-4-0, 9-3-0 UFC) entered the UFC through the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Namajunas earned three straight finishes on her way to the TUF Finale in 2014. Her opponent was none other than Carla Esparza.

‘Thug Rose’ would lose the bout via rear-naked choke, but her strong performance earned her a contract with the promotion. Namajunas bounced back from the TUF Finale loss going 4-1 in her next five and earning a strawweight title shot against then champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk. As a significant underdog, Namajunas defeated Jędrzejczyk to earn her first UFC title. 

‘Thug Rose’ would drop the title just two fights later, but earned another opportunity and seized the moment at UFC 261 defeating Weili Zhang via head kick just 1:18 into the fight. After successfully defending the title against Zhang in an immediate rematch, she now looks to exact revenge against Esparza in May.

Carla Esparza (18-6-0, 9-4-0 UFC) burst into the UFC as Namajunas did, on the 20th season of TUF. Winning the competition made her the inaugural women’s strawweight champion. Unfortunately the reign didn’t last as Esparza would drop the title in her next bout against Jędrzejczyk at UFC 185. 

After losing her title, things were a bit rocky for ‘The Cookie Monster.’ Esparza would go 3-3 in her following six bouts. All of that changed in April 2019 when Esparza earned a unanimous decision victory over Virna Jandiroba. That bout would start a five-fight winning streak defeating Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez and Xiaonan Yan. 

Her TKO victory over Yan was a clear statement that Esparza was ready for a shot at Namajunas’ title. So much so that even ‘Thug Rose’ couldn’t deny she was the clear #1 contender despite some hesitation from Dana White to grant Esparza the opportunity.

UFC 274 is shaping up to be an absolutely stacked lineup on May 7. Additional bouts currently scheduled for the event include:

Card is subject to change.

Follow me on Twitter at @SuperbeastCraig to see my latest work. Follow us on social media at @OTHeroicsMMA to stay up to date with all things MMA!

Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images

Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images

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