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).
PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR