- Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 to become the new women’s strawweight champion.
- Esparza entered the fight as the +225 betting underdog and was a +160 in the live odds betting market entering the final round.
- Cookie Monster also set the UFC record for longest time between two title reigns at 2,612 days.
Carla Esparza upset Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 to win the UFC women’s strawweight title for the second time in her UFC career.
The 34-year-old Esparza entered Saturday’s bout as the +225 betting underdog to Namajunas who closed at -265 at the best UFC sportsbooks. Cookie Monster also had live odds of +160 entering the final round of the five-round UFC 274 co-headliner and was a +260 to win the fight via decision. But after five low-action rounds, the judges gave the nod to Esparza 49-46, 48-47, and 47-48.
Worst Title Fight Ever?
Worst title fight ever? – Watch Rose Namajunas vs Carla Esparza 2 video from UFC 274 https://t.co/DgMoBtdchz
— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) May 8, 2022
Expectations were high for UFC 274’s co-main event. Namajunas had a score to settle with Esparza who defeated her at the TUF 20 Finale when the two fought for the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight championship. Esparza meanwhile, wanted to prove a point – that she could win the belt eight years after she lost it in her first title defense. Instead, fans witnessed one of the worst title fights ever, if not the worst.
Namajunas and Esparza combined to land only a total of 68 strikes in their 25-minute bout. 38 of those strikes were from Namajunas, who connected on only 27% of her significant strikes. Thug Rose’s output was less than half of the 86 significant strikes she landed in her previous bout against Weili Zhang at UFC 268. Meanwhile, Esparza’s 30-strike output was just three more than the 27 she landed when she knocked out Yu Wanan inside two rounds in her previous bouts.
They say that styles make fights but considering that they had shared the Octagon for 15 minutes eight years ago, it was rather odd that both looked a little tentative against each other. Namajunas and Esparza combined to land a total of 78 significant strikes and 136 total strikes in two fewer rounds at the TUF 20 Finale.
Namajunas Says She Won the Fight
— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) May 8, 2022
During the post-UFC 274 press conference, Namajunas’ first words to the media were “I won that fight”. According to her, she stuck to her strategy and although she did not mention what it was, it probably was to avoid Esparza’s wrestling. But in doing so, Namajunas rarely closed the distance to utilize the pristine striking which made her one of the best pound-for-pound female fighters on the planet.
Esparza meanwhile never became impatient and didn’t force the issue. In doing so, she left little opportunities for Namajunas to counter her. But like Namajunas, Esparza neither pushed the pace nor took risks. However, in a fight where the challenger did not “take the belt away” from the champion, the latter should have earned the decision. Not at UFC 274.
Now, Namajunas goes back to the drawing board and will have to find her way back to title contention. Meanwhile, Esparza is now a two-time UFC women’s strawweight champion who now holds the UFC record for the longest time between title reigns at 2,612 days or more than double the previous mark of Frank Mir which stood at 1,234 days.