Carla Esparza appears in good spirits after taking a few days to digest the news she would not be next to challenge for the UFC strawweight title.

Esparza (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC), who was the inaugural UFC champ at 115 pounds, has put together a five-fight winning streak in the weight class to seemingly position herself to rematch Rose Namajunas for the belt later this year.

She was passed over, though, when the UFC instead opted to book a Namajunas (10-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) vs. Zhang Weili (21-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) fight for UFC 268 on Nov. 6. It was something of a puzzling move considering Namajunas just TKO’d Zhang in 78 seconds in April, but the UFC brass apparently thought it was a viable immediate rematch.

Esparza was naturally disappointed, and immediately after the announcement was made this past week, she simply tweeted out a broken heart emoji – which was since deleted. After some additional distance from the news, Esparza has seemingly accepted the reality of the situation.

She posted a positive message to her social media on Tuesday, and she indicated she would wait to get her shot at the winner (via Instagram):

I’ve worked many years to fight my way back to a title shot. I have faith good things will come, and in the meantime I will use this time to strength build and skill build! May the best woman win… I got next

Esparza, No. 4 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie strawweight rankings, hasn’t lost since September 2018. Her current winning streak comes against Yan Xiaonan, Marina Rodriguez, Michelle Waterson, Alexa Grasso and Virna Jandiroba.

The 33-year-old already holds a win over Namajunas, too, as she won the UFC belt and Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show with a third-round submission of Namajunas in December 2014.


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