Competing for the first time in seven months, Jessica “Jag” Aguilar made a successful return tonight with a Split Decision win over All-American wrestler Carla Esparza at Bellator Fighting Championships 46 in Hollywood, Florida. The victory was Aguilar’s second since losing to Zoila Gurgel last year.
The back-and-forth matchup saw both fighters land numerous leg kicks, and Aguilar held her own in the takedown and wrestling departments. Despite a knockdown early in the final round, Aguilar rallied back to take the fight on two of the three judges’ scorecards. A third scored the bout for Esparza.
Aguilar (11-4-0) was aggressive early on as she and Esparza traded punches and leg kicks. Aguilar clinched and landed more punches, then stuffed a takedown. Esparza finally managed to get Aguilar down late in the round, but had to fight off an armbar. More leg kicks were exchanged in the second round and it was Aguilar who scored a takedown. She struck from the top until Esparza escaped and dragged Aguilar to the mat. She secured back control, but Aguilar stood. Esparza landed knees and a leg kick, then threw Aguilar to the mat late in the round.
With the fight up for grabs heading into round three, Aguilar landed a hard leg kick and Esparza replied with one of her own. She dropped Aguilar with a counter right and dove in with punches, but Aguilar recovered and got back to her feet. She scored with punches and kicks throughout the latter half of the close round as Esparza fought back with knees.
After three hard-fought rounds, Aguilar was deemed the winner by Split Decision, though the 30-27 scorecards in her favour were curious and Esparza appeared to have won the second round.
Winner: Jessica Aguilar by Split Decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29) after three rounds. She improves to 11-4-0.
Now back on track in Bellator, Aguilar has her sights firmly set on a rematch with Gurgel, who currently holds the promotion’s 115-pound women’s title. Gurgel defeated Aguilar in a close and contested Split Decision in the semi-finals of last year’s Bellator women’s tournament at Bellator 31.