MIAMI – Joanna Jedrzejczyk thinks UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas will avenge her loss to Carla Esparza.

Namajunas (11-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) is expected to defend her title against Esparza (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) next in a rematch of their Season 20 The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in 2014. Esparza submitted Namajunas in the third round to capture the inaugural 115-pound title but went on to lose it in her first title defense against Jedrzejczyk.

After taking out Esparza, Jedrzejczyk (16-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) went on a dominant run, defending her title a record five times. However, her reign came to an end when she ran into Namajunas, who beat her two consecutive times. Speaking from experience with both fighters, Jedrzejczyk doesn’t see the title changing hands.

“I think that Rose will defend her belt,” Jedrzejczyk told MMA Junkie while attending Eagle FC 46. “Carla won back in the day in 2014, but both of them are totally different fighters, different athletes with different mentality, as well, but I think that Rose will win this fight. She’s very strong. She’s very, very fast. Her timing is just perfect with her footwork. Of course, Carla has a few wins streak, but Rose is a different level, I think.”

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Esparza is currently enjoying a career resurgence having won her past five in a row. The former champ is coming off back-to-back wins over top contenders Marina Rodriguez and Yan Xiaonan, and has earned her way back up to the title after losing it in 2015.

Since falling short in the TUF 20 Finale against Esparza, Namajunas has gone 9-2, scoring wins over the likes of Jedrzejczyk twice, Jessica Andrade, and Zhang Weili twice. In her second reign as champion, Namajunas notched her first title defense when she edged out Weili in the rematch at UFC 268 last November.

As for Jedrzejczyk, the former strawweight queen is targeting big names only and thinks a rematch from her UFC 248 Fight of the Year against Weili makes sense for her return to the cage in more than two years.


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