Carla Esparza, Pannie Kianzad Victorious At UFC On ESPN 14Standout wrestler Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza earned her fourth straight victory tonight at UFC on ESPN 14: “Whittaker vs Till” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The former UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion edged out Marina Rodriguez in a closely-contested bout on tonight’s main card.

Also on tonight’s card, Pannie “Banzai” Kianzad put forth one of the best performances of her career in her bantamweight bout against Bethe “Pitbull” Correia. Kianzad scored a clear-cut Unanimous Decision victory over her Brazilian foe and has now posted wins in three of her past four fights.


Esparza (17-6-0) wasted no time in taking Rodriguez (12-1-2) down in the opening round, and she struck from the top with punches and elbows. Rodriguez threw short elbows from the bottom and one opened a cut beside Esparza’s left eye. Esparza dropped back for a heel hook, which allowed Rodriguez to stand up. She prevented Esparza from taking her back down and countered the takedown attempts with elbows and punches late in the round. The second round began similarly, with Esparza once again securing a takedown and controlling the action from the top. She once again attempted a late heel hook and Rodriguez used the opportunity to land hammerfists to Esparza’s eye.

In the final round, Esparza immediately took Rodriguez down and she struck from the top with punches and elbows. Rodriguez got back to her feet and was quickly taken back down. Esparza remained active from the top with her punches and elbows, and she avoided a triangle choke attempt from Rodriguez. Both women landed elbows on the ground and Esparza took Rodriguez down once more.

One judge scored the close bout 29-28 for Rodriguez, while the remaining two both had it 29-28 for Esparza. With tonight’s Split Decision win, Esparza kept her winning streak going and made a strong case for a title shot – or title eliminator bout – in her next fight. She stated following tonight’s win that she is still interested in a rematch with rival Claudia Gadelha, who narrowly defeated Esparza by Split Decision at UFC 225.


Kianzad (13-5-0) left no doubt in the judges’ minds with her performance tonight, controlling the majority of the action against Correia (11-5-1) in their bantamweight clash. Correia attempted multiple takedowns in the first round, but Kianzad’s defence was solid and she picked Correia apart with jabs, one-twos and leg kicks. Correia’s eyes were both swollen by the end of the round, but she had her best success in the middle stanza after taking top position when Kianzad fell early on. She landed punches and hammerfists to Kianzad’s eyes, which also began to swell up, until Kianzad rose to her feet and scored with knees in a clinch. Kianzad closed out the round with lead left hooks and leg kicks.

The final round began with an exchange of hard punches and Kianzad’s right eye swelled up even more as a result of Correia’s lead left hooks. However, Kianzad controlled the boxing exchanges after that and she was once again able to thwart Correia’s efforts to take her down. As Kianzad landed punch-kick combos, Correia finally got her down late in the round, but it was too little, too late. Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Kianzad, who impressed in victory tonight.



(Photo Credit: UFC)