Carla Esparza

The Cookie Monster

USA

Two-time UFC champion
StrawweightUFC
May 7, 2022
Esparza won the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship on Saturday, defeating Rose Namajunas via split decision (47-48, 49-46, 48-47) at UFC 274 in Phoenix.
ANALYSIS
Let's be clear, Esparza didn't actually "win" anything, but she did walk out of the arena with the championship, making her a two-time UFC title holder. In addition, Carla absorbed no damage, which is key because she is scheduled to get married next week. Esparza and Namajunas conspired to produce arguably the worst title fight in UFC history. The first three rounds were impossible to score because neither woman did anything. Esparza finally collected two takedowns in Round 4, her only two of the bout on 11 attempts. She allowed Rose to land a takedown and arguably the biggest punch of the fight in Round 5. All told, Carla landed 30 total strikes, while Namajunas landed 38. Neither number is a misprint. Ultimately, two of three judges thought it was enough. Esparza wasn't the champion when the night began and she is now, which is all that matters. Carla's first challenger is difficult to pinpoint at the moment. There is zero chance the UFC can run this combo back a third time. At least not at this point.
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Will face Namajunas May 7
StrawweightUFC
March 16, 2022
Esparza will take on Rose Namajunas in the co-main event of UFC 274 on May 7, Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated reports.
ANALYSIS
Esparza will seek a sixth consecutive victory in the Octagon after defeating Yan Xiaonan in May of 2021 for her fifth straight win. Last time these two fought in 2014, Esparza defeated Namajunas via submission to become the inaugural UFC strawweight champion, but Namajunas has certainly been the more relevant fighter as of late. Nevertheless, if Esparza can add another win to her current streak against an opponent like Namajunas, it would certainly add to her legacy within the division.
Next in line for title shot
StrawweightUFC
December 20, 2021
UFC President Dana White confirmed Monday that Esparza is next in line to face Rose Namajunas for a shot at the UFC Strawweight Championship, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
While the UFC has yet to set a date for this event, most in MMA circles have believed for quite a while that this is the next move for the division. Esparza has won five fights in a row, including a convincing second-round finish of Yan Xiaonan in May. Even champion Rose Namajunas has acknowledged that Esparza deserves to be next up. When it happens, it will be a rematch of a fight that took place on The Ultimate Fighter finale all the way back in December of 2014. Esparza won that fight via third-round submission, recording five takedowns and out-landing Namajunas 42-to-28. A lot has changed since then, as Namajunas has developed her striking game while participating in five title fights, earning the belt on multiple occasions.
Dominant effort, title shot next?
StrawweightUFC
May 22, 2021
Esparza defeated Yan Xiaonan via TKO (strikes) at 2:58 of Round 2 at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
It's Esparza's first knockout victory in the UFC and her first in any organization since defeating Lynn Alvarez on October 6, 2012 in Invicta. To say she dominated Yan would be the understatement of the century. The entire MMA world knows Esparza is going to struggle if she isn't landing takedowns, but that didn't stop Yan from attempting a lazy, looping shot about ten seconds into the fight. Esparza easily pushed forward and planted her on her back, and the fight was effectively over from there. It was also enough to earn Esparza a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus. Esparza's fights are generally grinding and quite dull, but she displayed ferocious ground-and-pound from top position on Saturday. This should be more than enough to earn Esparza a title shot against current UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas, provided the UFC doesn't instead choose to run back Rose vs. Zhang Weili. Rose and Esparza fought for the inaugural title back in December 2014, with Esparza winning via third-round submission. Carla is going to be an underdog if that fight happens, and rightfully so given the fact Rose is a much, much more accomplished grappler than Yan, but Esparza has earned this opportunity with five straight wins.
Set to fight May 22
StrawweightUFC
February 27, 2021
Esparza will take on Yan Xiaonan in a strawweight bout at a UFC event on May 22, MMA DNA reports.
ANALYSIS
The fight is expected to be a title eliminator. Esparza has won her last four fights, most recently beating Marina Rodriguez in a split decision. Her opponent, Xiaonan, is on a winning streak as well, winning her last seven in the octagon. The location for the fight has not yet been determined.
Upcoming fight canceled
StrawweightUFC
October 9, 2020
Esparza will no longer be facing Amanda Ribas at UFC 256 on Dec. 12, MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
The matchup had been verbally agreed upon but was never actually finalized, and it eventually fell through for undisclosed reasons. Ribas is expected to remain on the card against another opponent, though Esparza could still square off against her at some point in 2021.