Carla Esparza Takes Initial UFC Strawweight Crown

Esparza Courtesy UFC
Esparza Courtesy UFC

The former InvictaFC champion proved once again why she is meant to wear the gold.

Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas to win the first ever UFC strawweight title at the Ultimate Fighter 20 finale in Las Vegas Friday.

Esparza (10-2) used her wrestling to control Namajunas on the ground and neutralized her BJJ. Esparza would get the back and sink in the rear naked choke at 1:26 in round 3. The win not only came with the belt and the title of “Ultimate Fighter 20 winner”, she also got “Performance of the Night” for the event.

Esparza’s only losses come by the retired Megumi Fujii and the current #1 Unified ranked Jessica Aguilar. It is expected the winner of Saturday’s fight between Claudia Gadelha and Joanna Jędrzejczyk will face Esparza in her first title defense.

The main card opener saw TUF 20 semi-finalists Jessica Penne and Randa Markos battle in what won “Fight of the Night”. Markos’s striking proved somewhat effective, but it was Penne’s ground game that proved the edge in what was a split decision.

Torres vs. Magana Courtesy UFC
Torres vs. Magana Courtesy UFC

In the other six fights:

  • Felice Herrig showed a skilled ground game against wrestler Lisa Ellis to get the armbar at 3:05 of round 2.
  • Heather Clark pressed the action and landed some nice boxing combinations in her unanimous decision win over Bec Rawlings.
  • Joanne Calderwood went to war against Korea’s Seo Hee Ham. Both had crisp striking and Muay Thai, but Calderwood’s length and height overwhelmed the former DEEP-JEWELS champion to give the Scotswoman the unanimous decision
  • Tecia Torres put on a striking clinic on Angela Magana to get the overwhelming unanimous decision win.
  • Aisling Daly proved her ground dominance once again as she got the armbar over Alex Chambers at 4:53 of round 1
  • On the night’s opener, Angela Hill used her vast Muay Thai experience and her new wrestling defense to take a unanimous decision over Emily Kagan.

You can read some great play by play of the event by MMA Rising here.

The TUF 20 Fight of the Season bonus went to Rose Namajunas and Joanne Calderwood. Namajunas and Randa Markos would take the Performance of the Season bonuses.

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One thought on “Carla Esparza Takes Initial UFC Strawweight Crown”

  1. First congrats to Carla the Cookie Monster definitely fight of the year one or 2 featuring Rose as Jojo and Randa Markos win over Tecia round out top 3. Card review as notice a few wmma scene and fans ringside in attendence besides UFC stars. Props out to Rob on his round by round reporting (and might want to hot link when hez reporting). 1) Hill watch out great muy skills showing yes wrestling and bjj wins on ground if standing you can wear down take down attempts ( bigger pool of potential up and comers with karate / boxin participants far out numering grapplers). Emily more eye to hand training take from carla on her catching rose kicks with her fast hands. So cred to Hill for paying attention and growing at tuff20 campus maybe a heather clark next match 2) Ais one of 2 who made our victorian friends across the pond proud. While a season ranking mismatch both women came out to play maybe ais vs bec or feliz and alex vs morgana. 3) tecia showed shes back with her corner as retro feliz fighter came back. Tecia rematches with Randa or Feliz or even Penne or Joanna for high class match ups. 4) JoJo wow short notice vs Deep Jewels and great put her 2015 ine to watch your back Carla, Joanna / Claudia loser. 5) Bec she might need some time with Rose to get her Thug back on as Heather was taking advantage of ufc cage size and hesitancy by Bec. I dont know if the trip, heat of lights, or fire was missing as wasnt bec vs carla mentality there. 6) Lisa judos on attempt to gas feliz out in opening seconds a few tippy toes dance steps would have done it as she said she was gurgling. Feliz conditioning refilled her tank after her fight vs tap instinct lite her fires. Feliz friend of Carla worked her weight and leverage by relaxing on lisa n use of knees. Lisa for her part 3 attempts of put aways were there. A visit to Rose camp will get you back in w column vs heather or hill. 7) Penne phoenix arisen her vs jojo or joanna great future took some adjusting to cage size and pacing yet did right things to win on cards. Randa showed her power that shocked tecia just a few tweeks on guards switches and ring awareness with pettis she will be a top 10 regular. 8) 1 felt like watching a wcw plot with eric bishoff saying Carla / Fox in tuf20 be a heel and face after you won the belt… Kudos Carla read the spoilers on Rose wrestler recruit and on modify her skill set with lighting fast hand eye coordination on catching roses kicks for take downs (staple in judokas and wrestlers 101 self dense training). Rose had same game plan vs jojo just needs andrea lee on punching angles and snake slipperiness when ine has their weight on upper body relaxing. Tate post show did say how she liked Carla use on knees to open and split guards so watch for her visiting in prep for Sara. Great shiw and season the womens inpact is and will have long term effect on doors opening and empowement (pay n opportunties). Refs have successfully maintained fair contests and fighters health as I’m sure Sen. McCain was going speak up after Leslie Smith’s ear incident. Dana the future is yours now treasure the gift as Shannon / Julie and others are builing the other weight classes from 105 to 155 for inclusion. Thanks to participants, promoters, reporters, and fanz – great 2014 for wmma herstorical as the 1890-1940 great from ivy Russell, june byers, claire mortenson and others wish they could have been around. 😉

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