Carla Esparza: Rose Namajunas ‘lost the fight to herself’ at UFC 274, ‘you can’t win a fight by defending’


Carla Esparza has no excuses for the performance she gave at UFC 274,, but she understands that she had to do what she could while she was facing Rose Namajunas who she claimed refused to interact with her.

The five-round, lackluster affair was criticized by UFC historians as one of the most disappointing title fights. Esparza will not be arguing the opposite with anyone when she starts her second stint as champion strawweight.

Esparza takes responsibility for the fight. She also believes Namajunas may have been somewhat defeated before ever setting foot in the octagon this past Saturday night.

“I definitely feel that she lost the fight to herself,” Esparza explained on The MMA Hour. She went into there and she fought. I don’t think she did so with fear. However, she was very concerned about taking down her opponent and was focused on it. [She] didn’t let off as much as she could have. I definitely feel it was a lot of a mental thing.

“She’s beat the best of the best. Although she’s had to fight high-level wrestlers, she’s not a huge fan of the majority. She hasn’t fought a lot of people like me, and I’ve fought a lot of people like her. I feel I was more comfortable fighting someone with her style, and she wasn’t as comfortable fighting someone my style.”

Esparza defeated Namajunas during their first fight in 2014,. This helped her to become UFC’s first ever 115-pound champion.

Despite the fact that the rematch took place eight years later Esparza wondered if those memories didn’t influence how Namajunas fought in UFC 274..

Add to that, Esparza also rewatched the fight and saw how Namajunas’ coaches were praising her defense between rounds. In fact, offense is the only scoring criteria counted by judges in MMA.

After the fight Namajunas complained that he didn’t receive credit for his good defense ?”

“Maybe in their eyes, maybe in some judges’ eyes they could have felt they were getting the advantage,” Esparza said. “Not in my opinion, but it’s easy if you have open scoring and you know what’s happening. But I think maybe they worked a lot on this takedown defense and she was having success with the defense, so they’re like, ‘You’re doing good, you’re doing good, you’re doing what we trained.’

” In my mind, fighting is not a way to win.

“In my head, you can’t win a fight by defending.

Because Namajunas had been so intent on playing defense Esparza stated that Esparza was unable to generate much offense and it led to an 25 minute-long deadlock.

“She was being very cautious, so it made it very difficult to get my offense going,” Esparza said. My opinion is that you cannot fight to win. You have to put yourself out there sometimes, and you know what the saying is? Come back with your shield or on it.”

Considering how it all played out, Esparza can’t fault anybody for having a problem with the fight. Esparza isn’t exactly happy with this type of performance. As happy as she might be about becoming a two-time UFC champion, she would have much rather earned a victory that left no doubt in anyone’s minds and provided an action-packed fight that left people buzzing.

” When I saw the fight I thought, “Is it really happening?” Esparza stated. “Each round, I was nearly in disbelief. To hear her groan after the fight was over, it’s been there. You can’t get to this level in the sport and not felt those tough losses and gotten crap from fans. I definitely feel her pain, especially having been in there.

“I wanted us to have a great fight. I was like I hope we get a ‘Fight of the Night,’ and it was by far the opposite.”

With two wins over Namajunas now, Esparza is anxious to move forward with her career rather than focusing on this past rivalry. While UFC President Dana White has already shot down a third fight, Esparza isn’t necessarily opposed to the idea if that’s ever something the promotion asks of her.

“I feel like that’s a chapter I’m kind of settled with, but if they wanted to make the rematch, I’d be down for it at some point or whenever,” Esparza said.

“I don’t know if that’s something the fans want to see because the last fight was pretty lackluster, but I’m down for whatever. If she wants to feel complete again, or get another chance, then I would be up .”