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Esparza vs. Jedrzejczyk; Herrig vs. VanZant Set for Separate UFC Events

The UFC announced two strawweight matches Wednesday.


Carla Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk have a date and location for their title match.  The champion will defend her belt for the first time against the undefeated Polish fighter at UFC 185 March 14th in Dallas, TX. Esparza (10-2) won the initial 115 title in the TUF 20 finale with a rear naked choke over Rose Namajunas and is on a five fight win streak.

Jedrzejczyk (8-0) took Cláudia Gadelhato a split decision to earn the title shot. She made her UFC debut with a decision win over Juliana Lima.

The ,match will serve as the co-main event and will be on pay-per-view,


A month later, Paige VanZant and Felice Herrig will throw down at UFC on Fox 15 April 18 in Newerk, NJ.

VanZant (4-1) had a “Fight of rhe Night” performance in her UFC debut, defeating Kalin Curran by TKO in the thrid round this past November. Her lone loss was to Tecia Torres and has yet to be finished.

It will be a step up in competition with the more experienced Herrig (10-5) who defeated Lisa Ellis in her UFC debut. She had won four straight before losing to Tecia Torres at Invicta in 2013.

No word on if the match will be televised on the prelims or main card.


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.

TUF 20 Finale Set – Esparza vs. Namajunas for the Belt Friday

namajunas esparza 01In what was an eventful and drama filled season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, we are set to crown the first ever UFC strawweight champion.

Former InvictaFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza and InvictaFC star Rose Namajunas will square off for the initial title Friday on the TUF 20 Finale live from Las Vegas on Fox Sports 1.

Esparza (9-2) looked impressive in her semi-final bout with former InvictaFC atomweight champion Jessica Penne. Esparza’s volume striking and takedowns were key in the three round battle, which saw Penne stand in the pocket and chase Esparza. All three judges gave Esparza 30-27 on the score cards.

Esparza’s road to the finals included a rear naked choke over Angela Hill, a majority decision win over Tecia Torres, and the unanimous decision over Penne.

Namajunas (2-1) got her second kimura win in the tournament to guarantee her spot in the finals. Namajunas defeated Randa Markos in the second semi-final using her BJJ skills from bottom to transition to a kimura to get the tap in round 1.

Namajunas’s road to the finals saw her submit all of her opponents, including a rear naked choke over Alex Chambers and a kimura over Joanne Calderwood.

Semi-finalists Jessica Penne and Randa Markos will square off as well on the TUF 20 Finale and will kick off the main card.

They also announced the match order of the rest of the fights Friday, with all but two of them airing on Fox Sports 1.

Here is the schedule for Friday

Fox Sports 1 Main Card (9 p.m. est/6 p.m. pst)

  • Main event – Carla Esparza vs. Rose Namajunas – initial strawweight title
  • Jessica Penne vs. Randa Markos

Fox Sports 1 Prelims (7 p.m. est/4 p.m. pst):

  • Felice Herrig vs. Lisa Ellis
  • Bec Rawlings vs. Heather Jo Clark
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Seo Hee Ham
  • Tecia Torres vs. Angela Magana

Fight Pass Prelims (6 p.m. est/3 p.m. pst):

  • Aisling Daly vs. Alex Chambers
  • Emily Kagan vs. Angela Hill