It appears that the rumors of the UFC deciding on Rose Namajunas as Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s next opponent will come to fruition in November and while many view it as another notch on Joanna Champion’s belt, it’s safe to believe both will perform in an entertaining stand up battle. The problem the strawweight division is enduring is the lack of competition for both Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha. Both women are at the top of the division and while Gadelha only possesses four UFC wins against competition outside of her two losses to the champion, she does have 12 wins outside of the organization. Jedrzejczyk on the other hand has eight UFC wins with no losses and is on the verge of tying Ronda Rousey’s women’s title defense record that stands at six. The emergence of the UFC women’s flyweight division later this year has garnered interest from Jedrzejczyk along with other current 115 lb fighters. If Jedrzejczyk is pitted against Namajunas at UFC 217 and manages to get past “Thug Rose,” who will be the next challenger?
Tecia Torres was regarded as a heavy favorite going into season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, which eventually crowned the UFC’s first strawweight champion. Prior to entering the tournament, Torres held two unanimous decision victories over both Rose Namajunas and Felice Herrig. Unfortunately for “The Tiny Tornado” things didn’t go as planned. She was eliminated right off the bat as she lost her first bout against Randa Markos despite being the heavy favorite. Torres is now riding a two fight winning streak against Bec Rawlings and Juliana Lima after losing the rematch between her and Namajunas. Save for her time in the TUF house, Torres only possesses that lone loss against Namajunas. Her latest performance was an impressive second round submission win over Lima last month.
The recently turned 28-year-old’s two fight winning streak surpasses Namajuna’s one fight win streak, which means we could see Torres fight the winner regardless if she competes again this year or not. Since her fight took place last month, there isn’t much chatter on who will be next for Torres, but several options include, the woman won season 20 of TUF, Carla Esparza who was last seen defeating Maryna Moroz in June. The two have history dating back to even before the reality show and it should make for an interesting clash of styles. Esparza’s good friend and teammate, Felice Herrig is also coming off a big statement victory over Justine Kisch in June and already made headlines for the lack of promotions she feels she’s been receiving from the UFC after her win. If Herrig can avenge her loss against Torres, she’d be on her way up a division that is really lacking in depth.
Then comes the potential of seeing Alexa Grasso lock horns against Torres in what could be described as another chapter in Puerto Rico vs Mexico combat history. The two fighters are viewed as striker friendly and has the potential to separate the contender from the pretender. Cynthia Calvillo is another name who remains lurking in the shadows as a relatively new name who has already received high praise from her boss, Dana White. No matter how you spin it, White has a decent track record for spotting potential superstars.
Torres should be the frontrunner given the length of her win streak and the quality of opponents she’s handled. While Namajunas is likely to lock horns with Jedrzejczyk later this year, there are plenty of opportunities for new contenders to rise in 2018.