If Rose Namajunas doesn’t get the next title shot, manager Brian Butler says it won’t be because she’s not ready.
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In a recent interview with BT Sport, UFC president Dana White claimed Namajunas doesn’t want to fight for the belt against champion Zhang Weili and doesn’t like the pressure of being champion – which Namajunas quickly refuted.
Butler didn’t delve into too many details on why Namajunas (9-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC) isn’t 100 percent next in line for Weili, but did confirm that former champion Carla Esparza is also in the running.
“We’re still in talks with the UFC about Rose, but I can tell you that Rose is ready,” Butler told MMA Junkie. “Rose has been ready. She’s been ready, she’s been in camp. Rose is ready to fight, honestly, in the next – she can fight on a couple of weeks’ notice. She’s ready to go. So we have to see. It could be Rose, it could be Carla, it could be whoever. We’ll see.”
Weili hasn’t competed since beating former strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 in Las Vegas in a “Fight of the Year” contender. Despite the long layoff, Butler says Weili has been ready to return and was hoping to compete in this month’s Abu Dhabi events, but the cards filled up quickly.
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He explained that because the COVID-19 restrictions had her away from home for almost half a year in 2020, she isn’t too keen on competing in the U.S. for her next fight.
“Weili has been ready to go for some time now,” Butler said. “The only hesitancy is – her last fight, I don’t know if everybody knows the full details on everything that happened. But for her to even get to that fight was trails and trails just to get there. To avoid the COVID, they flew her to Thailand. Then Thailand started to lock down, so they flew her to Abu Dhabi. She was traveling for the last third of that camp.
“She was flying all around the world just to kind of escape getting locked into a country, and then finally gets to Vegas, puts on the performance that she does, and then she’s stuck in Vegas for several months after the fight because she can’t go home. And then when she finally does get home, she has to basically get locked up again for another month. She has been a little bit paranoid to come back Stateside right now until things have calmed down.” MORE:
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