Namajunas (11-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) once thought about her career from a small perspective. Now the 29-year-old has started to think about the bigger picture and how each fight fits into it.
For Namajunas, her rematch with Esparza (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC), is an important piece of the puzzle.
“I used to hate the term legacy, but now I have a different perspective on what it really means,” Namajunas told the interviewer, “I’m clearly the best, but it’s just a question of if I’m the greatest in the division of all time? I think this a huge step towards that for me. That’s the big test.
“Everybody thinks about the strawweights, they think about Joanna (Jedrzejczyk). During her time she came around a time when the level of competition wasn’t even close to her. That’s what I’m trying to do – set myself apart, because I’m clearly the best but in the last fight was kind of close, so I’ve really been working my butt to just make sure that I can set that distance between all of us.”
Namajunas and Esparza previously got in the cage at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in December 2014. Esparza came out the winner in the bout by third-round submission, grabbing the UFC strawweight title.
now roughly eight years after, and Namajunas is on her second term as UFC champion, while Esparza is fighting to claim back the belt she lost after beating “Thug Rose”
“It’s my ability to learn from my mistakes, be in the present moment and be able to adapt and adjust,” Namajunas said. “I think it’s the qualities of a true champion to be able to readjust with everything thrown at you.”