The strawweight matchup of inaugural division titleholder, Carla ‘Cookie Monster’ Esparza, and rising Muay Thai ace, Marina Rodriguez has been given another opportunity to come to fruition.
The Brazilian was pulled from their UFC Fight Island pairing on July 15th. – after a member of her corner submitted a positive COVID-19 test, with the promotion removing her from the event as a precautionary measure. Ten days later on July 25th. Esparza and Rodriguez are finally expected to meet.
California native, Esparza recently featured at UFC 249 in Jacksonville in May – scoring a contentious split decision win over former Invicta FC atomweight best, Michelle ‘The Karate Hottie’ Waterson. Rio Grande do Sul native, Rodriguez last featured at UFC Fight Night D.C. in December – battling to a majority draw opposite recent flyweight mover, Cynthia Calvillo. News of the rescheduled strawweight bout was initially penned by MMA Fighting reporters, Guilherme Cruz and Mike Heck.
Adding Waterson to a three-fight rise, longtime division mainstay, Esparza recently managed another close decision judging against another flyweight mover, Alexa Grasso. Prior to that win, Esparza, also the inaugural Invicta FC 115-pound titleholder, handed Virna Jandiroba a defeat in the Brazilian’s promotional bow. Back in December of 2014 – Esparza notched the strawweight title in a win over future champion, ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas.
A product of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, undefeated striker, Rodriguez has managed wins over former WSOF strawweight best, Jessica Aguilar, as well as perennial contender, Tecia Torres, and another draw – this time against Randa Markos. From her twelve career wins, Rodriguez has managed five knockout stoppages – ahead of this classic grappler versus striker pairing.