Carla Esparza is preparing for her fight against Yan Xiaonan at UFC Vegas 27. The match will be the co-main event on the fight card. Esparza ranked fourth, recently spoke on an interview with Andrew Whitelaw. She spoke about the strawweight title and how it recently changed hands at UFC 261.
Esparza commented on the title battle between Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili, saying she was surprised by the result and how quickly it came.
Esparza said, “I was a little shocked. I definitely thought it was going to be a lot more competitive than it was, you know? But that’s how it goes sometimes, and actually in watching this and being in and watching this division, everyone who’s ever taken the title has finished their opponent to get that title.
“So, I guess it kind of fits in line with the tradition of the division. But with such a game opponent like Weili, I definitely didn’t see that one coming.”
Esparza has only one objective in her mind
With Joanna Jedrzejczyk lurking at number two in the rankings, Esparza stated that she is only focused on her win this Saturday.
Esparza dismissed the possibility of a war between Joanna and Namajunas, saying, “I want to make a statement for me. I want to finish and that’s just what I want for myself. As far as Joanna and talks for that fight [Joanna vs. Namajunas], I mean, I don’t really think that fight makes sense.
“No matter what happens in this fight [Esparza vs. Xiaonan] because she [Joanna] has lost to Rose twice already. So I don’t think that fight makes sense.”
Esparza became the UFC’s first strawweight champion when she defeated Namajunas in the final of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20. ‘Cookie Monster’ is on a four-fight winning streak right now. Whitelaw noted that the last time she was on a similar streak, it resulted in a five-fight winning streak with the strawweight belt around her waist.
When asked whether she anticipates a similar outcome this time, a surprised Esparza replied, “Well that’s something I didn’t know until you just brought it up, so maybe! I’ve definitely been known to follow little superstitions in the past, so… Another one is I’ve never lost in Vegas so far. This is my sixth time out here, so..”
Carla Esparza and Yan Xiaonan in a potential title eliminator
Esparza is now ranked fourth and will face Yan Xiaonan, who is ranked third, in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 27. Her next fight may be a title eliminator.
Esparza submitted Namajunas to secure the inaugural UFC strawweight championship on their first meeting. Given how far Namajunas has progressed as an athlete, it will be fascinating to see how the rematch goes.