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Carla Esparza reflects on recent win over Felice Herrig

Women’s MMA and its rise in popularity can be attributed to a list of stellar competitors like Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, Megumi Fujii, and Gina Carano. However, while certain stand-outs may receive the bulk of the public’s attention there are a number of highly-talented females throwing down in the ring on a regular basis. One such fighter is Carla Esparza, a Bellator veteran coming off a victory over Felice Herrig from earlier this month at XFC 15.

The December 2 bout served as an excellent example of showing women possessing not only the technique to match their male counterparts but the heart/guts as well. The pair of beautiful bad-asses battled it out for three rounds with Esparza coming out with a Unanimous Decision victory.

Five Ounces of Pain recently caught up with Esparza to get her take on the match-up, as well as the present, and future, of women’s MMA in general.

“I knew her game had improved a lot,” explained the 6-2 Esparza of Herrig. “I know she was working on a lot of jiu-jitsu and a lot of wrestling, but I don’t think that a couple of months of wrestling are going to compare to years of wrestling.”

Esparza has been grappling since her formative years, something she credits as being the source of her success in MMA.

“I think a lot of it can be attributed to my wrestling background,” said Esparza. “I think it gives you a really solid base. It gives you good scrambling. I wrestled for eight years. I was a two time All-American in high school as well as in college. I think (wrestling) is not something most women have in MMA now and it’s not something they can really deal with.”

As such, bringing action down to the canvas was a large part of her plan entering the bout with Herrig even though she was ready to compete no matter where things went, stating, “That was my strategy but I was prepared to stand up with her if I had to. I know she was working a lot on takedown defense so I trained a lot of Muay Thai with my coach as well just in case. (My team had) a general strategy but most fights are going to be unpredictable. You never know what your opponent is training for.”

In terms of what’s next for the 24-year old, Esparza isn’t sure but does believe fans will one day see women fighting inside the infamous Octagon.

“I definitely think we’ll see women in the UFC someday,” Esparza revealed. “I think the UFC will soon realize that the women put on entertaining fights and it’s something that the public enjoys.”

Summing the situation up perfectly, while Esparza recognizes part of her chosen endeavor involves objectification from male fans, the rising star concluded the discussion with a statement most MMA lovers can relate to.

“Keep watching. Keep supporting the women. We always bring it!”

Esparza has finished four of the six opponents she’s beaten with her two losses coming to Fujii in what was only her fourth professional fight and a defeat via Split Decision to well-rounded veteran Jessica Aguilar. Interested parties can catch up with her on Twitter (@CarlaEsparza1).


  • G-DUB says:

    I really enjoy high-level women’s MMA, but Carla is not currently a torch bearer for making the argument that women can be as skilled as the men. Her wrestling is good, but that’s all she knows how to do. Once she gets her opponents to the ground, she only knows very basic ground-and-pound circa 2000 Tito. The UFC will not be taking note of her as she makes boring fights.

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  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    In fairness she’s only eight fights into her career and has been fighting for less than two years.

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  • G-DUB says:

    Absolutely Brendan. However, it’s frustrating that a women as inexperienced as Carla would get main event/co-main event status and a featured article. A man in her position would never get that attention unless he was a phenom. I really want women’s MMA to be taken seriously, but at this point there are only 2 women I would consider well-rounded, top-notch athlete MMA practitioners, Cyborg and Miesha. The rest are “specialists”. I hope in time more women will take up the sport and earlier in life. When there’s a viable, sustainable product, Dana will take note.

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  • hindsightufuk says:

    Bellator need to get the ladies together for season 6, i miss womens mma

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  • edub says:

    In all honesty, I don’t believe women’s MMA will ever be that popular. Sure there will be certain women that get headlines on a large scale (Carano, Cyborg), but as a whole it will never be anywhere close to as popular as the men. Just look at the rest of women’s sports in the US. Soccer is only popular during the world cup, tennis is only popular when the williams’ sisters are winning, boxing hasn’t been poplular since Leila Ali, Anne Wolfe, and Christy Martin were at their peak.

    MMA is a niche sport. Women’s MMA is a very small niche inside of that sport. Women’s fights are definitely exciting, but the technique and talent level compare more to a toughman contest then they do men’s mma.

    I don’t think we’ll ever see women fighting inside the UFC, but you never know.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    She does have the beginings of a pretty solid looking carrer ahead. On a side note I hope to see Herrig fight another stand up fighter next as I havent really seen her in any extended stand up fighting but with all the talk of how good she is it would be fun to watch. Herrig seemed very composed throughout and did throw up a great submission attempted at the end.

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  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    For the record we do features on lesser-known fighters all the time.

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  • Hohlraum says:

    That was the hottest MMA fight in history. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

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    I would much rather you guys did a piece on the next best fighters to emerge out of the regional circuits

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