UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili's next fight is still up in the air.
Most expected Zhang to fight former 115-pound champion Rose Namajunas in 2021, but UFC president Dana White recently told BT Sport that fight wasn't finalized.
"What I'm hearing is Rose does not want a title shot," White said. "Rose does not want to fight for the title. So we're looking at the rankings and how it plays out. It would play out as Weili vs. [former strawweight champion] Carla Esparza."
However, when contacted by ESPN, Namajunas' fiancé and coach, Pat Barry, refuted the claim that "Thug Rose" doesn't want to fight for the title next.
"That is absolutely not true," Barry said. "We absolutely want the title fight. Who would turn down a title fight? We just don't want to air this out publicly. If there was some confusion, they can call us to clear it up."
Barry declined to further elaborate on what the potential confusion might be at this time.
Zhang (21-1) most recently defeated Joanna Jędrzejczyk via split decision in March. That fight is considered by most pundits as one of the best fights of 2020.
Namajunas (9-4) went 1-0 in 2020, defeating Jessica Andrade via split decision in July. Namajunas suffered a broken nose during that fight but is healed now, sources told ESPN.
In May, Zhang told ESPN that, if it were up to her, Namajunas would be her next title defense.
"I would fight anyone that the UFC offers to us," Zhang said, "but my preference is to fight Rose because I believe she is the highest-level and most-skilled martial artist outside of myself in the division. She would be a good challenge for me."