Esparza captured the strawweight title in a split decision win in the UFC 274 co-headliner. She is now 2-0 against Namajunas in her career after defeating her for the then-vacant title on The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale.
Esparza and Namajunas put on one of the most lackluster fights in UFC history, with both women failing to provide much output for five rounds.
During her UFC 274 post-fight press conference, Esparza explained what her corner told her heading into the final round, and gave her thoughts on Namajunas’ approach.
“I believe my coaches told me that I was winning, I think they said she was going to be a little bit safe in that last round,” Esparza explained. “I’m not too sure, in that last round I was just like ‘oh my gosh, I wanna do more, I really want to set in the eyes of the judges’. I hate to say it this way, but it’s hard to fight someone who doesn’t wanna fight.”
Namajunas claimed in her post-fight presser that the fans were booing Esparza, not her, during the slow-paced title fight. Before the loss to Esparza, she earned back-to-back wins over Zhang Weili last year.
Esparza worked her way back to the strawweight title shot with five-straight victories, including most recently over Yan Xiaonan last May. She also picked up decision wins over Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson during her winning streak.
As she begins her second strawweight title reign, Esparza will put Namajunas in the rear-view mirror for now and will keep her eyes on the upcoming Joanna Jędrzejczyk vs. Weili rematch.
Who do you blame for the lackluster Carla Esparza vs. Rose Namajunas fight at UFC 274?