Carla Esparza Earns Key Win Over Juliana Lima At UFC 197Former UFC women’s strawweight champ Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza made a triumphant return to the Octagon and picked up a pivotal win tonight at UFC 197: “Jones vs St. Preux” in Las Vegas, Nevada. The standout wrestler earned a Unanimous Decision victory over Juliana “Ju Thai” Lima.

Esparza, who took tonight’s fight on short notice, got back in contention for the 115-pound women’s title that she relinquished to Joanna JÄ™drzejczyk 13 months ago. She used her wrestling skills to keep Lima pinned down on the mat in all three rounds and walked away with a well-deserved victory.


Esparza (11-3-0) punched her way into a clinch in the opening round, but Lima (8-3-0) countered nicely with knees and two right hands that forced the former champion to shoot in for a takedown. She got Lima down, but Lima was active off of her back and she attacked with a triangle choke attempt and a trio of upkicks. Esparza spent most of the round on top in Lima’s guard, but she was unable to land anything damaging until the final minute when she scored with short right hands.

The second round began with Esparza taking Lima back down after catching a kick. She moved to half-guard and landed punches until Lima kicked her off. An upkick from Lima caused Esparza’s nose to bleed heavily, but she remained in control of the positional battles on the ground. Lima secured a sweep after attempting a heel hook and she scored a very brief takedown before the end of the round.

Esparza wasted no time in taking Lima down in the final round. She landed short punches and elbows from the top, but Lima created enough space to land another upkick that caused the blood to flow from Esparza’s nose again. On the feet, Esparza scored with a right hook and she landed knees to the body after taking Lima down into side control. Lima used an inverted triangle choke to sweep into top position and she threatened with an arm-triangle choke before the end of the fight.

The judges favoured Esparza’s ground control in all three rounds and awarded her a clean sweep with 30-27 scores across the board. The 28-year-old, who has been sidelined after undergoing shoulder surgery, has won six of her past seven fights and is once again one of the top-ranked contenders in the competitive strawweight division.

Winner: Carla Esparza by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) after three rounds. She improves to 11-3-0.



(Photo Credit: UFC)