Carla Esparza laid claim to her top status as the best women’s strawweight in the world, winning the UFC championship in impressive fashion, taking out Rose Namajunas in three rounds. Rose came out hot like many thought she would, but Carla weathered the storm and broke her will in the third round, gaining the choke about midway through. What a great cap off to such an entertaining season of the “Ultimate Fighter”, a season full of drama and finishes, the women sure know how to bring a fight to the cage. Also, Charles Oliveira upset Jeremy Stephens in the co main event, as Stephens folded to the constant pressure Oliveira provided. For the rest of the main card analysis and full results, check down below.
Rose Namajunas was defeated by Carla Esparza by Submission(Rear Naked Choke) rd.3 – Well the hype surrounding “Thug” Rose Namajunas quickly wilted as Carla Esparza dominated rounds two and three, choking her out in the third round. Rose showed all the potential she possed in the first round, attempting several spinning maneuvers and taking risks, but it seemed towards the middle of the second round Rose started to gas and fold to the take downs of Carla. From Invicta FC strawweight champion to now the UFC strawweight champion, the limelight does not seem to shy away from “The Cookie Monster” Carla Esparza, as she used the same game plan that has kept her on top of the division chain for quite a long time. There could be a possible number one contender fight tomorrow night as Claudia Gadelha fights Joanna Jederzejczyk take on each other on the FOX prelims. A new champion is crowned, the next step now is to defend it for Carla Esparza.
Jeremy Stephens was defeated by Charles Oliveira by Unanimous Decision – Defense wins games only in team sports, Jeremy Stephens loss tonight shows exactly why they do not in MMA. Stephens fended off take downs and submissions for two rounds, and completely taken out of his element by the Brazilian. Charles Oliveira pressed Stephens against the cage at will, brought him down with ease, and nearly submitted Stephens several times. There was a glimmer of hope in the third, as Stephens was able to fend off Oliveira while landing some bombs in the process. Unfortunately it was not enough, as Stephens loses his second UFC featherweight fight in a row.
KJ Noons versus Daron Cruickshank ruled a No Contest (Eye Poke-Doctor ruled stoppage) – Another fight that started off steaming, but stopped short due to an eye poke suffered by Cruickshank. KJ Noons had already been warned once in the first round for the same foul, but finished the fight with it in the second. Cruickshank did a superb job mixing up his striking and wrestling, landing shots at will and capitalizing on his take down attempts in the first. Noons came out with a flurry in the second, but then caught Cruickshank in the eye with what seemed to be his pinky finger. Disappointing to see such a fight end that way, a fight that may have been another candidate for a fight of the night bonus.
Joe Proctor was defeated by Yancy Medeiros by Submission(Guillotine Choke) rd.1 – It was not the submission that did in Joe Proctor, that spinning kick to the mid section dropped him, the sub was just icing on the cake for Medeiros. It really looked like Proctor was starting to get into a groove with his striking, with Medeiros slowing down a tad but still was able to finish. Medeiros wants to get paid like he says, it might be time to throw him in against someone in the top 15 of the lightweight division, that may be the only way to do it with these uniform regulations taking effect in the summer.
Randa Markos was defeated by Jessica Penne by Split Decision – The two runner-up women sure did not act like during the first fight on the main card. First round was full of high level Jiu Jitsu, sweeps and sub attempts galore. Markos was able to pull off the second round with her stand up game, and fending off Penne’s reach. In the third the match was up in the air, and Penne pounced at the opportunity in her UFC debut. Penne was able to get Markos to the ground and maintain full mount until the final thirty seconds when Randa Markos valiantly attempted to sub Penne in the final ten seconds, with no avail. Split decision was Penne’s for the taking, raising her stock in the new strawweight division.
In other notable fights on the prelims Aislin Daly and Felice Herrig were the only fighters to pull off finishes, as each recorded armbar submissions in their respective fights. Angela Hill put on quite the striking clinic in the opening fight as well, Hill landed numerous knees in the clinch and elbows against the fence to bloody and batter Emily Kagan. For full results of the UFC prelims, skim down below.
Lisa Ellis was defeated by Felice Herrig by Submission(Armbar) rd.2
Bec Rawlings was defeated by Heather Clark by Unanimous Decision
Seo Hee Ham was defeated by Joanne Calderwood by Unanimous Decision
Angela Magana was defeated by Tecia Torres by Unanimous Decision
Alex Chambers was defeated by Aislin Daly by Submission(Armbar) rd.1
Emily Kagan was defeated by Angela Hill by Unanimous Decision
The first fight of the weekend now over, the UFC switches gears to Arizona, as the heavyweights take over the cage on FOX. Junior Dos Santos gets in the cage with the surging Stipe Miocic to possibly decide who gets to fight the champion next. Also, Nate Diaz returns from a year-long absence to try to reclaim his status among the best in the lightweight division against one of the best presently, Rafael dos Anjos. One night down and one more to go, stay tuned into the MMA Spotlight for the UFC on FOX results.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
Follow Justin’s column in the MMA Spotlight section
Guardian Liberty Voice sports writer leading the coverage in MMA