In the Clinch – Carla Esparza makes her case for a title shot – Carla Esparza entered the UFC strawweight title shot conversation with an impressive TKO victory over Chinese striker Yan Xiaonan at UFC Vegas 27 on May 22nd.
“The Cookie Monster,” (18-6-0), 33, who is known for her wrestling, took advantage of an early first-round takedown and battered Xiaonan on the ground, drawing blood. The second round was more of the same, except she used the crucifix position to pin down Xiaonan and force referee Keith Petersen to halt the bout at 2:58.
Good night in the office!!!👊🏽😝 pic.twitter.com/BNoKLG6GBv
— Carla Esparza (@CarlaEsparza1) May 23, 2021
Hindsight is always 20/20. Xiaonan, a strong striker who previously decisioned grappler Claudia Gadelha was probably a bit overconfident that her takedown defence and ground game would hold up with Esparza.
Xiaonan (13-2-0, 1NC), 31, will be back with another win or two. She dropped to No. 4 with the defeat.
The big win potentially sets up the No. 3 Esparza, who has a five fight win streak, with the woman she defeated for the inaugural title back in 2014 – current champion Rose Namajunas.
Dana, make it happen.
Like Esparza, Namajunas has improved by leaps and bounds since the TUF 20 days, taking out Joanna Jedrzejczyk to win the title. She also defended it against Jedrzejczyk before losing it to Jessica Andrade and then stopping Weili Zhang for her second title reign.
Esparza has probably already done enough to secure a UFC Hall of Fame spot, but she would be a first ballot shoo-in with another run as champion.
Also at UFC Vegas 27, we saw the retirement of “The Irish Dragon,” Paul Felder (17-6-0).
One of Felder’s big wins in his UFC career was over the current lightweight champion, Charles Oliveira at UFC 218 in December 2017. Felder had a solid run in the octagon and I think he made the right call stepping into the broadcast booth. Better to leave the party early before they turn the lights out.
In the Clinch – Carla Esparza makes her case for a title shot – Three Key Cards
In the Clinch – Carla Esparza makes her case for a title shot
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