Peña Applauds Esparza’s Approach To Being Champion

UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Julianna Peña is impressed with how recently crowned strawweight champion Carla Esparza has handled herself since winning the belt. The 32-year-old was recently asked by The Schmo for her thoughts on “The Cookie Monster”. Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 to reclaim the strawweight title she originally won in 2014…

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UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Julianna Peña is impressed with how recently crowned strawweight champion Carla Esparza has handled herself since winning the belt.

The 32-year-old was recently asked by The Schmo for her thoughts on “The Cookie Monster”. Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 to reclaim the strawweight title she originally won in 2014 at the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter Season 20.

Peña was quick to praise the 34-year-old for her ability to persevere and get her belt back, as well as how she’s conducted her business as champion so far.

“I love Carla, you know what I mean?” Peña said. “I won The Ultimate Fighter then she won it right after me. I love that she’s Latina and love that she is able to go in there and win her belt back. I thought it was very inspiring and I loved what she did. And do whatever the champ wants, whoever you wanna fight. I like that she’s standing up and says, ‘I call the shots here’.

Esparza was the second female to win The Ultimate Fighter after Peña won Season 18. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

There’s no date or opponent set for Esparza’s first title defense yet, but many assume former champion Zhang Weili is currently at the front of the line following her highlight-reel knockout of Joanna J?drzejczyk at UFC 275.

Esparza has so-far resisted being pressured into any matchup, and The Schmo mentioned that the 34-year-old recently suggested Marina Rodriguez as a possible challenger instead of Zhang. Peña thinks that Esparza has earned the right to make those calls for herself.

“Of course, everyone’s gonna be barking up at her, but she’s the queen, she decides, and she’s the one who’s gonna be able to decide who her next fight is and who’s deserving or not. And I definitely think that Marina is definitely deserving of that title shot as well. So, whatever Carla wants.”

Peña upset longtime women’s bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes at UFC 269 when she submitted the Brazilian in the second round. The two fighters coached opposite one another on the currently airing Season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter and are set to rematch at UFC 277 in July.

Want to stay up to date on all the latest Julianna Peña news? You can do so right here!

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Carla Esparza Dismisses ‘Classless’ Jéssica Andrade As A “Troll”

Carla Esparza knows she has a target on her back as the UFC’s strawweight champion, but she’s also not afraid to ignore the chatter of fighters looking for a chance at her belt. “The Cookie Monster” won the strawweight title from Rose Namajunas via split-decision at UFC 274 last May. It wasn’t the most dominant…

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Carla Esparza knows she has a target on her back as the UFC’s strawweight champion, but she’s also not afraid to ignore the chatter of fighters looking for a chance at her belt.

“The Cookie Monster” won the strawweight title from Rose Namajunas via split-decision at UFC 274 last May. It wasn’t the most dominant performance or an especially exciting fight, but Esparza improved to 2-0 against Namajunas after first beating her in 2014 to become the UFC’s inaugural strawweight champion.

There’s no shortage of fighters looking to be Esparza’s first challenger, and former champion Jéssica Andrade has been particularly vocal about how unimpressed she was by Esparza’s win at UFC 274.

For her part, Esparza isn’t concerned with what Andrade has to say and hasn’t been too thrilled by their previous interactions.

“I think she’s trying to just shoot her shot and trying to get an opportunity at the title again,” Esparza told MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn. “For me, not to be rude or whatever, but she was super rude to me, so I just view her as a troll and I just blocked her. I’m not gonna engage with her because to me she’s just annoying. I think she’s not the classiest of fighters. I just don’t want to deal with her.”

Andrade most recently submitted Amanda Lemos last April. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Andrade defeated Rose Namajunas in 2019 to claim the UFC’s strawweight belt but lost the title to Zhang Weili in her next fight. The UFC’s #6-ranked strawweight is currently on a two-fight win streak after first-round stoppages of Cynthia Calvillo and Amanda Lemos.

While there’s no opponent or date set for Esparza’s first title defense, former champion Zhang appears the likely first challenger after her spinning back fist knockout of Joanna J?drzejczyk at UFC 275.

What’s your reaction to Esparza referring to Andrade as a “troll” and choosing to ignore her comments?

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Esparza Claims Zhang Weili Turned Down Two Fights While Champion

Carla Esparza is now in the driver’s seat regarding a matchup with Zhang Weili. With the UFC strawweight championship belt securely in the hands of newly crowned champion Carla Esparza, she is calling her own shots. The bout between Zhang Weili and Joanna J?drzejczyk at UFC 275 was supposed to determine the next title challenger…

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Carla Esparza is now in the driver’s seat regarding a matchup with Zhang Weili.

With the UFC strawweight championship belt securely in the hands of newly crowned champion Carla Esparza, she is calling her own shots. The bout between Zhang Weili and Joanna J?drzejczyk at UFC 275 was supposed to determine the next title challenger according to UFC President Dana White. With Weili coming out victorious a bout with Esparza should be set, however, Esparza isn’t ready to sign that contract so quickly.

“I’ve actually accepted two fights with Weili and she turned them down when she was champ,” Esparza told MMA Fighting. “So I’m not afraid to fight anybody. I just gotta do it on my timeline.”

Esparza is claiming that during Weili’s title run the UFC tried to match them up on multiple occasions. Weili was the strawweight champion from 2019 to 2021. During that time, she only faced two opponents, Rose Namajunas, and J?drzejczyk. Meanwhile, Esparza was staying active with four fights of her own. She explained why she didn’t fight Weili back then.

“Yes, when there was kind of a hold on the fight that was supposed to happen with Rose and Weili, they offered me the fight with Weili twice, and I accepted both times. One was a little longer time, one was short notice,” she explained. “But, I was like, ‘Hey, I don’t care if it’s one week, the opportunity to fight for the belt, I’m gonna take any opportunity.’ And I said yes, and she said no.”

Esparza only won the belt about a month ago and is adamant that her first title defense happens on her timeline. There has been some backlash from these comments, some implying that Esparza may be scared to face Weili. She denies these claims and states that, in fact, she will accept the fight as she has done twice before.

“So, I even have messages from people who saw the media being ready to put out at one of the pay-per-views, I think in like, November or something, where they were ready to announce the fight between me and Weili, but they kept waiting to hear back from her, if she was gonna accept it, and it ended up that she didn’t,” she said.

Do you think Carla Esparza will make her first title defense against Zhang Weili?

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Carla Esparza Believes That Marina Rodriguez Deserves No.1 Contender Spot Over Zhang Weili

carla esparzaUFC strawweight champion, Carla Esparza believes that Marina Rodriguez deserves the next title shot over Zhang Weili. Following her sensational rematch win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk, former champion Zhang Weili called for and was anointed the number one contender spot. However, the current champion, Carla Esparza believes that Marina Rodriguez, a former opponent, is more deserving […]

carla esparza

UFC strawweight champion, Carla Esparza believes that Marina Rodriguez deserves the next title shot over Zhang Weili.

Following her sensational rematch win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk, former champion Zhang Weili called for and was anointed the number one contender spot. However, the current champion, Carla Esparza believes that Marina Rodriguez, a former opponent, is more deserving of a title shot.

“I don’t think [Zhang] is [more deserving],” Esparza said to MMA Fighting. “I think that Marina has won five straight, I think she’s beaten top-level competition. She’s been staying active, and for me, she’s proven herself. She deserves a title shot. But for whatever reason, I’m sure there’s a lot that goes into it and Weili is getting the shot.”

Rodriguez is currently riding a four-fight win streak after being defeated by Esparza in August of 2020. The Brazilian has produced some great wins over the likes of Mackenzie Dern, Michelle Waterson, and Amanda Ribas.

Although Esparza feels that Rodriguez Is the most deserving and recognizes the improvements in her game, she isn’t fazed about who’s put in front of her even if she feels it isn’t the deserving opponent.

“For me, I fight whoever’s put in front of me,  Esparza said. But doesn’t necessarily mean I think it’s fair or was the right call as far as the athlete goes. Every time I watch Marina, I see her getting better and better and beating top girls. Even having to knock somebody out twice in one fight in Amanda Ribas. She’s impressive.

“I definitely think she earned the title fight, and this is just the way it goes with the UFC sometimes. Whether it’s marketing or whatever else the reasoning, that’s just kind of how it goes, and you have to just roll with the punches.”

Although there is no set date for Esparza’s first title defense of her second reign as champion, it will undoubtedly be with either Zhang Weili or Marina Rodriguez. Of the other top five, Esparza is just fresh off a win over Rose Namajunas [No.1], with Dana White shutting down talks of a third fight between them.

As for Mackenzie Dern [No.4] and Yan Xianan [No.5], Rodriguez has beaten both back-to-back in the past eight months.

Carla Esparza talking to MMA Fighting

Do you agree with Carla Esparza? Does Marina Rodriguez deserve the next shot

Esparza On Potential Shevchenko SW Arrival: “That Would Be Scary”

UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza believes a considerable amount of fear would be injected into the 115-pound division if flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko made the drop down. Shevchenko has ruled over the 125-pound landscape since 2018, successfully defending the title seven times and clearing out most of her competition in the division. With that…

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UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza believes a considerable amount of fear would be injected into the 115-pound division if flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko made the drop down.

Shevchenko has ruled over the 125-pound landscape since 2018, successfully defending the title seven times and clearing out most of her competition in the division. With that in mind, many have pondered potential ventures that “Bullet” could undertake beyond her natural weight.

While a bantamweight move for either a trilogy with Amanda Nunes or a rematch with Julianna Peña has appeared to pique her interest, Shevchenko has also somewhat left the door open to going in the other direction.

Prior to her latest championship retention at UFC 275, Shevchenko was asked whether a move down to strawweight would be possible during a fan Q&A. In response, the Kyrgyzstani acknowledged the difficulties it would involve, but certainly didn’t rule it out.

“Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting proposal. Going to strawweight means you have a serious weight (cut), but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” said Shevchenko. “Being a professional, you have to consider, if you cut too much weight to strawweight, how are you going to fight at bantamweight? … Everything is possible.” (h/t Sportskeeda MMA)

The verdict from the strawweight queen? ‘No thanks’.

Esparza, who is in the midst of her second reign on the 115-pound throne after unseating Rose Namajunas in a lackluster UFC 274 co-main event last month, was asked her thoughts about a potential Shevchenko arrival in the division while speaking with MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn.

“Cookie Monster” suggested that Shevchenko, whom Esparza regards as the female MMA GOAT, would instill fear into the strawweight roster, especially with how she dealt with a pair of the division’s former champs up at flyweight.

“Well, that would be scary,” admitted Esparza with a laugh. “She is like, you know, a beast, for sure. I think that she would definitely put some fear in a lot of strawweights’ hearts. I mean, if you look at (Jéssica) Andrade and Joanna (J?drzejczyk), some of the most dominant strawweights in the division, they go up, fight her, and they get destroyed.

“It’s hard to say what a weight cut would do to her, ’cause that’s a little, you know, a bit to go. But yeah, that would be scary… For me, Valentina, I consider her the GOAT of women’s MMA,” added Esparza.

For now, it seems Esparza will need to turn her attention to another dangerous opponent in the form of Weili Zhang, who likely secured her place as the first challenger to the American’s second reign with her highlight-reel finish of J?drzejczyk in Singapore on June 11.

Perhaps the silver lining of a defeat for either women would be avoiding a potential meeting with Shevchenko down the line.

How do you think Carla Esparza would fare against Valentina Shevchenko?

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Daniel Cormier Believes Weili vs. Esparza Could Make MMA History

Daniel Cormier thinks a lot of money will be bet on former strawweight champion Zhang Weili against current titleholder Carla Esparza. Weili seems to have earned the next strawweight title shot after a knockout win over Joanna J?drzejczyk at UFC 275. She bounced back following back-to-back losses to Rose Namajunas. The door to a quick…

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Daniel Cormier thinks a lot of money will be bet on former strawweight champion Zhang Weili against current titleholder Carla Esparza.

Weili seems to have earned the next strawweight title shot after a knockout win over Joanna J?drzejczyk at UFC 275. She bounced back following back-to-back losses to Rose Namajunas.

The door to a quick turnaround towards another title shot opened up for Weili when Namajunas fell to Esparza via a split decision at UFC 274. This prompted UFC President Dana White to proclaim Weili vs. J?drzejczyk as a No. 1 contender fight instead of the surging Marina Rodriguez getting the next shot.

Cormier thinks the odds will be stacked in favor of Weili ahead of their expected title fight, especially after Esparza’s lackluster win over Namajunas versus Weili’s highlight finish.

During a recent episode of his DC&RC show, Cormier claimed that Weili could make history before she squares off with Esparza.

“She may be honestly the biggest challenger in terms of a favorite going into a fight that you’ve ever seen in the UFC,” Cormier said of Weili. “She’s gonna be a massive favorite over Carla Esparza.” (h/t MMA Junkie)

Esparza earned wins over the likes of Yan Xiaonan, Michelle Waterson, and Rodriguez on her way to the title shot against Namajunas. She earned the then-vacant strawweight title over Namajunas on The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale.

Weili called for a fight with Esparza in Abu Dhabi later this year, but Esparza seems non-committal to fulfilling her wish. Esparza got married following her win over Namajunas and it’s unclear when she’ll return for her first title defense as the new champion.

Cormier, as well as many other UFC fans and pundits, feel that Esparza’s second strawweight title reign may be short-lived ahead of her fight against Weili.

Do you give Carla Esparza a chance to defeat Zhang Weili?

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