Carla Esparza vs Rose Namajunas Title Bout Set For TUF 20 FinaleFormer Invicta FC champion Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza and fast-rising star “Thug” Rose Namajunas will face off for the inaugural UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship on Friday at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in Las Vegas. Both women moved on with key wins during TUF 20 Episode 12.

In the first of two semi-finals during tonight’s episode, Esparza showcased her much-improved boxing skills en route to a Unanimous Decision victory over friend and training partner Jessica Penne. Namajunas earned her spot in the championship final by submitting Randa Markos in the first round.


Esparza (9-2-0 pro, ranked #1) put together quick combinations in the opening round of her fight with Penne (11-2-0 pro, ranked #4), who answered with a one-two that knocked her off-balance. Esparza regained her footing and she scored with more quick flurries and overhand rights. Penne fought off a takedown attempt and countered an Esparza uppercut with a stinging left hook. Esparza took her down in the final 30 seconds, but Penne kicked her off and returned to her feet.

More hard right hands scored for Esparza in round two and she jumped in with lunging one-twos. Penne replied with a combination, but Esparza ducked under and countered with short hooks. She mixed up her strikes by targeting Penne’s face and body with punches and took Penne down on two occasions. The fighters were stood up rather quickly and Esparza landed overhand rights, but her right eye began to swell up from Penne’s stiff jabs.

Esparza slipped under Penne’s punches and she countered with three- and four-punch combos in the final round. Penne landed some solid shots of her own, but Esparza continued to get the better of the exchanges. She snapped Penne’s head back with a jab and followed with more overhand rights. Penne landed a right cross and a leg kick, and she appeared to try to pull guard after throwing the kick. The fighters returned to their feet and Esparza secured a takedown just before the bell.

All three judges scored the entertaining fight 30-27 for Esparza, who moved on to the championship final with the Unanimous Decision win.


The second semi-final fight between Namajunas (2-1-0 pro, ranked #7) and Markos (4-1-0 pro, ranked #14) ended much more quickly, but it was no less action-packed than the Esparza-Penne bout.

Markos rushed forward with punches in the opening minute and Namajunas cracked her with a counter right hand. She took Markos down and tried to mount her, but Markos bucked and nearly swept into top position. Markos got to her knees and Namajunas looked to set up a triangle choke from the bottom. She switched to a kimura and used it to sweep into side control. Namajunas bent Markos’s arm behind her back until she was forced to submit at the 2:44 mark of round one.

With her slick submission win, Namajunas advanced on to face top seed Esparza for the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight title on Friday.

The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale takes place on Friday night at The Pearl Concert Theatre at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. Semi-finalists Penne and Markos will meet in a featured bout on the main card.



(Photo Credit: Esther Lin, /

  1. Rooting for Namajunas. She rocks!

  2. Fight of the season…Esparza vs Penne hands down.
    Rose is a beast…she will win it all!!

  3. Guys, I admit – I never saw Rose coming. But boy did she ever. I think she’ll be better than ever tomorrow night and the Era of Rose will begin, and along with her, a new era of WMMA.

  4. Interesting to see where they will be ranked. If Carla wins, she is #1. Jag can’t stay #1 in WSOF fighting no one. Rose should jump to top 3 with the belt. Hell, I’d put her #1 since she has what everyone wants. UFC champ is always ranked #1. It means the most.

    All I know is that the rankings will greatly change in the next three days with major WSW fights. Randa and Joanna J should also be high. So should Torres and Penne.

  5. TJ – very interesting – of course you’re referencing the Unified Women’s Divisional MMA Rankings linked directly off this page. Don’t mind if I drop the current (pre-TUF 20 Finale) rankings in here below. Yes, I fully agree with you tomorrow’s winner really should be the new #1 and your other thoughts. The winner of Gadelha v. Jędrzejczyk should also be top 3 in my opinion. It does look like Jag is on the outside looking in for now. But hopefully she can keep winning in WSOF and one day make a big splash in the UFC (and some good $$).

    Strawweights (106.1-116.0 pounds) – as of Dec 11th, 2014:

    1. Jessica “Jag” Aguilar (19-4-0) – WSOF
    2. Claudia “Claudinha” Gadelha (12-0-0) – UFC
    3. Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza (9-2-0) – UFC
    4. Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood (8-0-0) – UFC
    5. Katja “Killer Bunny” Kankaanpää (10-1-1) – Invicta FC
    6. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (6-0-0) – KSW/Invicta FC
    7. Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres (4-0-0) – UFC
    8. Kalindra Faria (15-4-1) – XFC/WSOF
    9. Joanna Jędrzejczyk (7-0-0) – UFC
    10. Mizuki Inoue (8-3-0) – Deep Jewels/Invicta FC

    Contenders: Felice Herrig, Livia Renata Souza, Hérica Tibúrcio, Bec Rawlings, Stephanie Eggink

    *Note: Due to the unique nature of The Ultimate Fighter 20 contracts, all contestants on the show will remain eligible to be ranked within the strawweight division until after the TUF 20 Finale in December.

  6. Honestly…JAG is too scared to fight the girls in the UFC now…she knows she will lose to a number of them

  7. Hell…Angela Magana would have beat her twice if the ref had not mistaken blood in her eyes for a verbal tap…that right there shows you how good or bad JAG really is.