UFC Fight Island 3 Results: Carla Esparza Edges Out Marina Rodriguez

Carla Esparza and Marina Rodriguez, UFC Fight Island 3
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 26: (L-R) Carla Esparza punches Marina Rodriguez of Brazil in their strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 26, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Carla Esparza was able to edge out a split decision win over Marina Rodriguez on the UFC Fight Island 3 main card from Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

Former strawweight champ Carla Esparza was on the best run of her recent career heading into UFC Fight Island 3. Three straight wins, over decent competition, putting her within striking distance of the title picture for the first time in years. Her opponent on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, Marina Rodriguez, would likely have been in that conversation already were in not for two of her four UFC bouts ending in draws.

Someone was likely to take a big step forward with a win in this strawweight battle Saturday. Round one began with a nice right hand from Rodriguez. Esparza ducked a shot and got a nice single leg takedown. In Rodriguez’s guard, Esparza began to drop some ground-and-pound, but Rodriguez held her close. Not much work going on from either woman on the ground, but Esparza was able to get in the occasional shot. Rodriguez responded with an elbow and tried for a triangle choke, but Esparza slammed her down to reset the position.

An elbow from Rodriguez opened Esparza up, and even made her swell up a bit. Rodriguez kept busy from the bottom, but Esparza pulled for an ankle lock attempt. The attempt fell flat and Rodriguez ended up on top of her, landing a few shots before Esparza created a scramble. Back to the feet and Rodriguez put together a nice combination that stunned Esparza, who then shot in on a takedown. Big elbows from Rodriguez to end the round.

The second round began with a nice pair of right hands from Rodriguez. After some tentative striking from both women, Esparza shot in on a takedown, and after a scramble, was able to get it. Esparza back in Rodriguez’s full guard and they exchanged elbows. Posture up for Esparza and she is throwing down some big shots. Rodriguez attempted to burst up to her feet but Esparza stayed glued to her. Another leg lock attempt from Esparza, and Rodriguez retaliates with some hard ground-and-pound.

Kicking off the third and final round was Rodriguez pressing forward, walking Esparza down. A nice right hook landed for Rodriguez, while Esparza feints shots. A failed takedown attempt from Esparza and she ate a shot for it. A nice single-leg attempt from Esparza against the cage, Rodriguez stuffs it but Esparza lands some big shots against the cage. Rodriguez gets out of the position against the cage and presses forward again, only to yet again be taken down by Esparza. From Rodriguez’s full guard, Esparza reigned down some elbow shots from above. A triangle attempt from Rodriguez from the bottom was unsuccessful. Rodriguez was able to get to her feet, but only to be taken down quickly again by Esparza. The round came to an end with a scramble.

Official Result: Carla Esparza def. Marina Rodriguez via split decision (28-29, 29-28 30-27)