Carla Esparza returns to action at the UFC 228 event on September 8 when she battles the undefeated TUF 23 winner, Tatiana Suarez.
Esparza (13-5), a former UFC strawweight champion, has a wealth of experience in amateur and collegiate wrestling, however in Suarez, she may have met someone with wrestling credentials to match. Suarez has accomplished a great deal in the sport of freestyle wrestling and prior to making the move to MMA was ranked the number-one freestyle wrestler in the United States at 55kg.
“The Cookie Monster” believes that her experience will give her the edge over Suarez in September.
“I think the numbers and the fights speak for themselves,” Esparza told MMANYTT. “You will have seen the type of fights and wars that I’ve been in. It gives me a lot of confidence to overcome anything that anyone can throw at me.
“I think she’s been in there and dominated a lot of people and who is to say what’s going to happen, but if it goes into deep waters, I think my experience in the cage is going to give me that edge over her.”
The 30-year-old doesn’t believe Suarez has the striking to match her own.
“I don’t think she’s shown a lot of versatility in her striking so far, but she’s still young in this sport,” Esparza said.
“I think as far as the fight goes, I think she will try turning it into a wrestling match and try to impose her will on me. I know what to expect though and I’m going to more than ready for her.”
Esparza explains that she has actually known Suarez for a while and fully understands what a good grappler she is, however she believes Suarez’s jiu-jitsu game “is still a little green”.
“I’ve known her for years, we actually grew up together on the local circuit,” Esparza said. “I’ve known of her for a long time and she’s actually been my friend for many years. As far as looking at her on a professional level and looking at her as a fighter, I think she’s a great grappler and a two time world medallist in wrestling on the women’s circuit.
“She brings that great grappling game and she has a great front headlock. I think her jiu-jitsu is still a little green, but her guillotine and D’Arces flow nicely from her wrestling so she does a couple of things very well, but I’ll be aware of that.”
UFC 228 takes place on September 8 from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, United States. The main card featuring Esparza vs. Suarez will be aired live on pay-per-view from 10pm EST.
Fight fans, who do you predict will win Esparza vs. Suarez? Let us know in the comments section below.