PRESS RELEASE / CHICAGO, Ill. (August 10, 2010) — Bellator Fighting Championships today confirmed that Angela Magana has suffered a stress fracture to her right big toe that has subsequently forced her out of her scheduled Bellator 24 match-up with Megumi Fujii (20-0). Magana’s injury has provided an opening for undefeated Two-Time NCAA All American wrestler Carla Esparza (3-0) to step up to the challenge and face the World’s #1 female fighter at Bellator 24 in the Season 3 Women’s Tournament kicking off on August 12th at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

Esparza, the former two-time NCAA All American wrestler out of Menlo College in Atherton, California. A product of the highly touted Team Oyama is coming off of an impressive performance in her third professional fight against Strikeforce veteran Lacey Schuckman less than a month ago. Esparza secured a fight-ending rear-naked choke halfway through the second round.

“Angela’s unfortunate injury provides a spectacular opportunity for Carla. The two time All–American Wrestler has been working intensively with Team Oyama and now she has the opportunity to shock the world of women’s MMA.,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “I have great respect for Carla’s willingness to step up on short notice to face Megumi Fujii. She comes into this fight with a pure fighters attitude, she’s not here to survive, she’s coming here to win.

Fujii is widely regarded as the No.1 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world. She was trained in MMA by Shooto veteran Hiroyuki Abe and top heavyweight Josh Barnett and is known for her quick takedowns and skilled submissions. In fact, 16 of the 20 Japanese MMA sensation’s wins have come via submission.

However, Esparza plans on countering with her wrestling ability.

“I definitely think my wrestling is going to play a huge factor in this fight with Fujii,” said Esparza. “I don’t think she’s ever encountered a wrestler that has my striking ability. It’s not going to be a grappling match. She’s going to have to worry about my wrestling and my striking.”

“If I wasn’t in shape and ready for this fight I wouldn’t have taken it. With just three days notice I’m not going to be as prepared as I’d like to be, but I’m not going in there to survive for three rounds – I’m going in there to win.”

The two fighters join an impressive crop of female fighters competing in the Bellator Season 3 Women’s Tournament with 7-1 knockout artist Zoila Frausto, 12-5 Seattle submission specialist Lisa Ward, 7-0 Southern California striker Jessica Pene, 5-1 Las Vegas-based powerhouse Lynn “Lights Out” Alvarez, 9-0 Irish sensation Aisling Daly, and 8-4 American Top Team product Jessica Aguilar.

Additionally, in a late undercard switch up, Farakhad Sharipov (11-3) replaces Chino Duran and takes on Eric Luke in a featherweight contest.