Two-time All-American wrestler Carla Esparza will return to action at Xtreme Fighting Championships 15: “Tribute” on December 2nd in Tampa, Florida. The Bellator veteran will battle Felice “Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig in a 115-pound matchup. The bout was officially announced by the promotion today.
Esparza suffered a razor-thin Split Decision loss to Jessica “Jag” Aguilar in her most recent bout at Bellator 46 in June. She had won two straight fights prior to the setback. Herrig has earned wins in five of her last six fights and picked up a Unanimous Decision victory at 115 pounds for XFO in May.
Esparza (5-2-0) finished her first three opponents in a five-month span last year before stepping into the Bellator 115-pound women’s tournament as a late replacement for an injured Angela Magana. Fighting on mere days’ notice, Esparza faced pound-for-pound standout Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii and battled through a competitive first round before succumbing to an armbar in round two. She rebounded from her first professional setback with two more victories before suffering the close loss to Aguilar. All but one of the 24-year-old’s wins have come by stoppage.
Herrig (5-3-0) opened her career with a pair of Split Decision losses, but emerged victorious in each of her next three fights, including an April 2010 decision win in Bellator. On January 14th, Herrig suffered a one-sided Unanimous Decision loss to top 125-pound prospect Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak. After a quick victory in March, Herrig dropped down to 115 pounds and put on an impressive performance in defeating Nicdali “The Night Queen” Rivera-Calanoc at XFO 39. Herrig has stopped three opponents to date and has never been finished.
The Esparza-Herrig matchup represents a traditional grappler versus striker style clash, but Esparza has demonstrated improved standup skills in recent bouts and Herrig dominated many of the ground battles with Rivera-Calanoc in May. Both fighters will look to take a step up in the 115-pound division, which has become even more competitive since last year’s Bellator and Jewels tournaments.
XFC 15: “Tribute” takes place on December 2nd at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. The event will air live on HDNet and the bout between Esparza and Herrig is expected to be part of the televised main card.