Carla Esparza
The Cookie Monster

USA

Hands Rodriguez first pro loss
StrawweightUFC
July 25, 2020
Esparza defeated Marina Rodriguez via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
ANALYSIS
It was a typical Esparza effort in the sense that it was a slow-paced fight that was not visually pleasing to watch. Almost all Esparza victories fall into the "grinding" category and this was no exception. Esparza absorbed plenty of damage from Rodriguez, but she also landed 5-of-9 takedown attempts and spent a good portion of the bout controlling the Brazilian on the mat. Esparza's striking has actually improved since her early days, but it's still not a strength, and she is at a disadvantage whenever a fight remains on the feet for an extended period of time. Esparza's wrestling game is championship-caliber, but there are enough holes in the rest of her game to likely prevent her from reaching the mountain top at 115 pounds once again.
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Fight pushed back 10 days
StrawweightUFC
July 6, 2020
Esparza's strawweight matchup against Marina Rodriguez has been rescheduled for July 25 on Fight Island, Guilherme Cruz of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
This was a matchup that was originally scheduled for July 15 and thought to be called off after one of the cornermen of Rodriguez tested positive for COVID-19. Presuming the fighters and remaining teammates have all tested negative, it appears the fight will simply be pushed back 10 days. Esparza is currently listed as roughly a (+130) underdog for the matchup.
Fight removed from July 15 card
StrawweightUFC
July 3, 2020
Esparza will no longer face Marina Rodriguez on the July 15 card after one of Rodriguez's corners tested positive for COVID-19, MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Neither Esparza nor Rodriguez has tested positive for the virus, but the UFC is taking an abundance of caution to avoid a larger spread that could affect a larger portion of the card. Esparza will thus have to wait a little longer for a chance to extend her three-match winning streak.
Matching up with Marina Rodriguez
StrawweightUFC
June 3, 2020
Esparza is set to fight Marina Rodriguez in a strawweight bout July 15, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
Esparza took down Michelle Waterson via split decision at UFC 249 in early May and has won her last three fights. Rodriguez carries a 12-0-2 record and last fought Cynthia Calvillo to a draw in December, while her previously scheduled fight in May (versus Claudia Gadelha) was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gets by Michelle Waterson
StrawweightUFC
May 9, 2020
Esparza defeated Michelle Waterson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) at UFC 249 on Saturday in Jacksonville.
ANALYSIS
Esparza got the better of a fight in which neither woman did much of anything until the final 30 seconds. Esparza is an uncomfortable and hesitant striker but still managed to outpoint an opponent in Waterson who is completely unable to get out of her own way. Esparza is known for her wrestling, yet she managed to land just 1-of-10 takedowns in this fight. The fact she still emerged victorious says more about where Waterson is these days as opposed to anything positive Esparza accomplished. Esparza now sports a 7-4 record with the UFC.
Moved to UFC 249
StrawweightUFC
April 26, 2020
Esparza will take on Michelle Waterson in a strawweight matchup at UFC 249 on May 9 in Jacksonville.
ANALYSIS
This was a fight originally scheduled for UFC Portland on April 11, but that happened to be one of the several fights canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite what's likely an irregular training camp for all fighters, Esparza will still get the opportunity to put her two-fight winning streak on the line against a recognizable opponent. The fight is scheduled to air on the prelims that will be televised live on ESPN. Despite entering with a slight height disadvantage, Esparza sits as approximately a (-145) betting favorite for the matchup.