Despite a lack of cookies to celebrate with (or at least not enough cookies), Carla Esparza was in good spirits following her fourth consecutive win on Saturday, at UFC Fight Island 3. Even looking a little worse for the wear.
“The Cookie Monster” improved to 17-6 with the win, the best streak of her UFC run, and best overall since winning the women’s strawweight title to cap off The Ultimate Fighter 20 in 2014.
Following a hard-fought bout at with Marina Rodriguez that ended in a split decision, Esparza discussed hearing the announcement that she’d once again have to rely on the scorecards.
“Whenever you hear that split decision, you always get a little bit scared,” she admitted, speaking to Cageside Press and other media outlets in a virtual post-fight press scrum. “You never know how the judges are in different places. I think that’s why I was trying to go for a few finishes this fight, with the leg locks and stuff. Because I did not want to leave it to the judges.”
“Fortunately it went my way,” she added. Still, Esparza was certain she had done enough to pick up another W. “I felt pretty confident. I didn’t think there was a doubt in my mind that I had lost the fight. That’s why it caught me a little off guard when one of the judges gave it to her.”
Esparza allows that she might have lost a round. Nothing more. And when she did find herself at a disadvantage, her experience “being in those deep waters and being in trouble” helped her through.
What’s next is a tricky question. Esparza has been vocal about wanting to fight Claudia Gadelha again. Amanda Ribas also seems to be the girl of the moment.
“Either one,” replied Esparza when asked which one she’d prefer. “I know Claudia has a fight already booked. I think Amanda Ribas is the next fight that makes sense. I haven’t really seen her fight too much, but for me, I don’t need to see someone fight. I take fights, that’s what I do.”
The good news is, there are plenty of options in the UFC’s deep 115lb weight class.
“For me, hands down, the strawweight division is the deepest division for women. If you even look at the flyweight division, how many people fighting for the title have come from our strawweight division?,” Esparza observed. “I think that just shows you how deep we are.”
Watch the full UFC Fight Island 3 virtual post-fight press scrum with Carla Esparza above.