Inaugural UFC and Invicta FC strawweight champion, Carla Esparza certainly turned in a statement-making performance in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 27 on Saturday night — stopping the promotional-perfect, Yan Xiaonan with a brutal second round ground stoppage, cementing her status as the number-one contender at 115lbs.
The victory came as the Californian’s fifth consecutive triumph, as she handed the Liaoning native her first defeat following a six-fight undefeated run in the organization.
Scoring three takedowns over the course of the almost eight-minute fight, Esparza displayed crushing top pressure and some real noteworthy finishing instincts to slice and cut the forehead of Xiaonan on route to an eventual second round stoppage after a series of strikes from a mounted crucifix.
Moving to 5-0 in her last five outings, the veteran Team Oyama trainee added Xiaonan to prior successes against Marina Rodriguez, Michelle Waterson, Alexa Grasso, and Virna Jandiroba. The finish came as the eighth stoppage of the 33-year-old’s professional career — and interestingly enough, the first since she was crowned the undisputed and first strawweight champion in the promotion’s history back in December of 2014, which came against current titleholder, Rose Namajunas.
Speaking following her fifth consecutive triumph, Esparza made her intentions clear to clash with the two-time gold holder in her next Octagon outing.
“I want a chance to fight for that title (against Namajunas),” Esparza said during her post-fight interview with Paul Felder. “I think that’s an intriguing fight. It’s a fight that everyone wants to see. Come on, Dana (White), let’s make it happen.“
Dana White, who was in attendance at the UFC Apex facility on Saturday, admitted that he’s still weighing up the option of booking a rematch between Namajunas and former champion, Zhang Weili next, however, maintained that Esparza made a worthy statement.
“She (Carla Esparza) looked like a beast tonight,” White said during his interview with Heidi Androl. “She came out and absolutely dominated. You can tell by the way she was fighting that she was trying to make a statement. Statement made, message received, we see you. I don’t know what we’re going to do next — if we do the rematch (between Namajunas and Weili) or if we give it to her (Esparza).“