UFC’s Carla Esparza on Strawweights: “This Division Could Go Anywhere”

Las Vegas, NV — Two-time UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza has had about a month to digest her loss to Weili Zhang at UFC 281, which cost “Cookie Monster” her title.

At the 14th Annual World MMA Awards this past Friday, Esparza gave Cageside Press her thoughts on the fight, and what’s in store for the 115lb division.

“Definitely it wasn’t my night. Got caught, but that’s the name of the game. Anybody can get beat in this MMA world,” Esparza told us. “So I’m at peace with it. You win some, you lose some. I’ve definitely won a lot. I feel really content. Props to my opponent. I’m ready to move on.”

While Esparza will move on — she has previously stated she’ll be back, not ready to retire just yet at age 35 — what’s in store next for the division is up in the air, even to her. Marina Rodriguez, who Esparza beat in 2020, had looked as if she’d be next in line, until she was defeated by Amanda Lemos. Lemos herself was bested by ex-champ Jessica Andrade earlier this year.

“When Marina got beat, my mindset was in the same place, I was like ‘what’s going to happen now?’ She build herself up so high to get to that point,” observed Esparza. “And Lemos had just lost to Andrade. But Andrade lost to Weili not too long ago. So this division could go anywhere. Definitely I think in the next year there’s going to be a lot more shake-up.”

Watch our full interview with Carla Esparza from the 14th Annual World MMA Awards above.