Carla Esparza emerged with an upset win over Rose Namajunas tonight at UFC 274 to seize the strawweight belt in one of the worst title fights of all-time.
The two fighters circle each other at range. Opening minute goes by with no strikes landing. Both ladies flicking out the jab but swatting air for now.
Superwoman punch attempt from Esparza comes up short. Constant movement from Namajunas. Grazing left hand from Esparza. Finally the double jab lands for Namajunas.
Calf kick from Esparza. Jab lands for Namajunas. Front kick upstairs from Esparza comes up short. Esparza charges forward and barely lands with a right hand.
The rest of the round fades away without anything happening.
The second round starts like the first with nothing really happening in the opening minute. Namajunas steps into a jab attempt and Esparza immediately pounces for a takedown attempt, gets her to the mat for a split-second, but Namajunas immediately pops straight back up again.
Half the round gone and nobody’s landing anything. Namajunas whiffs on a hook and Esparza lands a counter punch.
Heading towards the final minute of another incredibly uneventful round and Namajunas does seem to connect with a couple of fast jabs. Low leg kick lands for Esparza.
Namajunas stares at Esparza after the round ends, but no aggression from her through 10 minutes of fighting so far.
Body punch lands for Namajunas. Counter left for her as Esparza ot into range for a moment. Overhand comes off the glove of the challenger.
Esparza attempts a takedown but then lands a body kick instead. Esparza with a couple of punches and then lands a takedown, but Namajunas stands up immediately.
Both land a jab at the same time. Esparza lands hers again. Namajunas getting her footwork going from side to side and then lands an uppercut.
Esparza trying to set up a takedown, but Namajunas keeps her at bay. Namajunas circles off and then darts in to lightly land a punch.
Namajunas circles away from the onrushing Esparza. Namajunas ducks and lands a grazing punch. Superwoman punch from Esparrza misses.
One-two lands for Namajunas. Namajunas feeling out with the jab and Esparza tries to go for a takedown, but the champ moves away. Right hand for Namajunas.
A few strikes landed at least, but another underwhelming round.
Both fighters swatting thin air. leg kick from Esparza is checked. Esparza tries a takedown and it’s quickly blocked.
Namajunas goes for a one-two and Esparza immediately goes for a takedown. Bit of a scramble as they go down and Esparza tries to hop onto Namajunas back, but Rose quickly gets away and back to striking range.
left hand partially lands for Namajunas. Esparza thinking about another takedown and they move awkwardly and Esparza lands a grazing punch on the way out.
Missed front kick upstairs from Namajunas. She comes up short on a side kick to the head too.
Right hand lands for Namajunas and Esparza instantly is in on a takedown again and this time she lands it nicely. Namajunas able to get back up quickly and Namajunas lands her best right hand so far as they stand.
Namajunas slides on the canvas as she was loading up on a punch. leg kick from Esparza just as the round is ending.
Swatting thin air from both ladies to start the final round of a terrible fight.
Esparza drives into a takedown that instantly fails. Front kick attempt from Esparza. Nice right hands lands for Namajunas.
Esparza connects solidly with a left hand and Namajunas lands on the counter. leg kick from Esparza.
Front kick to the body from Namajunas. Rose lands a nicely timed right hand.
One-two lands for Namajunas. Now a calf kick connects. Side kick to the head comes up short. Jab for Esparza.
Another head kick misses for Namajunas. Body punch and one upstairs grazing the target from Namajunas.
Esparza missing with an overhand. Final 10 seconds and Namajunas suddenly bursts into a takedown attempt and at least partially lands it and tries to hold her down until the final horn.
Smart takedown from Namajunas there to win the round, but who knows how the judges scored the other four.
What a terrible fight and the lack of engagement from Namajunas blows up in her face as the judges crown Esparza the new strawweight champion via a split decision victory (47-48, 49-46, 48-47).
Namajunas has had some great gameplans over the years, but this one was horrible. She was understandably wary of Esparza’s takedown attempts, but on the few occasions they came she dealt with them well, so her continued lack of engagement on the feet despite clearly being the better striker gave the judges very little else to work with and so she and her corner only have themselves to blame for the outcome.