Joanna Jedrzejczyk doesn’t think Carla Esparza should get the next crack at gold.

The former women’s strawweight queen came close to reclaiming her throne when she was edged out by then-champion Zhang Weili in a “Fight of the Year” split decision at UFC 248. Now she only sees two challengers for newly crowned champ Rose Namajunas.

“This is what she thinks,” Jedrzejczyk said of Esparza in an interview with “The Schmo.” “She has a few wins straight, but hmm – I think the next challenger should be ‘JJ’ or Weili Zhang. This is what I agreed to only.”

Esparza (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) has won five in a row. Most recently, she had a statement finish of Yan Xiaonan at UFC Fight Night 188. But UFC president Dana White said he’s still undecided on whether Esparza or Weili will be next for Namajunas. Jedrzejczyk (16-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) also can see Weili getting a rematch with the champ.

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When asked if she thinks Weili (21-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) rematches her or Namajunas first, Jedrzejczyk said the two options make sense.

“Both fights are possible and are very interesting, not only for me, but for the other girls as well – I mean Rose or Weili Zhang, for the UFC and the fans,” Jedrzejczyk said. “So we will see what will happen next.”

Jedrzejczyk, who has only one fight remaining on her contract, hasn’t competed since just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down in March 2020. The 33-year-old needed time to recover from damage taken in the Weili fight, but has been holding out on her return for one specific reason.

“I can’t wait to get back to the octagon and put on a hell of a performance for you because there is not any sport without fans,” Jedrzejczyk said. “One of the points to get me back to the octagon was that I want my fans to be back in the arenas, and it’s finally happening because I don’t see myself fighting without them. They give me extra energy, extra power and we are together in this business.”

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