With three consecutive decision victories, inaugural UFC strawweight titleholder, Carla ‘Cookie Monster’ Esparza is fast approaching a summit which was once her own to claim. Naturally, the Californian is looking up the rankings for her next outing and floated the idea of an animosity filled rematch – stemming from a contentious 2018 decision.
At UFC 225 in June of that year. Esparza entered the Octagon opposite one-time title challenger, Cláudia Gadelha – off the back of two straight wins over Cynthia Calvillo and Maryna Moroz. Brazilian grappler, Gadelha on the other hand, had seen her two-fight rise halted by former champion, compatriot, Jéssica Andrade in the matchup prior. In a bout which received a split decision judging, Gadelha took spoils – not without some criticism from Esparza.
Both have reiterated their interest in rematching down the line – following the Brazilian’s close decision triumph over Angela Hill, and Esparza’s razor-thin judging against Michelle Waterson in Jacksonville. Esparza has claimed that during their UFC 225 meeting, she contemplated asking referee Rodrigo Madrigal to inspect Gadelha – who she believed had greased before the tie. Warranting a response, the Rio Grande de Notre native told Esparza to stop making excuses for the decision defeat.
In an interview with Colin Crandall from the MMA Power Hour – Esparza has stoked those flames once again, explaining how she wants to “get paid to punch Cláudia Gadelha in the face again” when discussing the motivation surrounding a split decision blemish.
“I guess I would say for me – I’m motivated to fight Cláudia (Gadelha) again, you know like, I don’t like her,” Esparza explained. “I wanna get paid to punch her in the face again. I guess what I learned from that is – again she pulled off another questionable split decision this past weekend [against Angela Hill]. Like you said, just gotta go for broke and go in with that finish, because for some reason she’s getting those nods. I definitely plan to go in there and finish the job.“
When discussing her next potential outing, Esparza explained how she’s never the type to refuse a pairing – but further reiterated her interest to re-run her 2018 affair with Gadelha, in an animosity filled rematch.
“Honestly like, I’ve never turned down a fight in my whole career,” Esparza told. “I’m not one of those picks and choose type fighters like, ‘Oh I wanna fight this person or that person because it’s an easy fight’. I’ve never been handed easy fights, I’m down to fight whoever, but if you ask me for a name, I want to fight Cláudia. That’s been a long time coming, and to me, that’s the only fight in my mind right now.“
With Gadelha currently sitting at #6, and Esparza at #7 in the official UFC strawweight pile – a rematch between the two in the not too distant future, could be a real possibility. Before her decision victory over Hill – Gadelha managed a unanimous decision win over Randa Markos, rebounding from a judging loss to Nina Ansaroff. Prior to her close victory over Waterson, Team Oyama trainee, Esparza secured a pair of judging wins over Alexa Grasso, and Virna Jandiroba last year.
Esparza and Gadelha were scheduled to meet at Invicta FC 7 – with the former’s strawweight title up for grabs. The day before the pairing, Gadelha was forced from the tie after she was admitted to hospital, and diagnosed with gastroenteritis.