“Introducing first: FIGHTING out of the blue corner, a wrestler holding a professional record of 14 wins and 4 losses, she stands 5 feet and 1 inch tall weighing in and one hundred and fifteen and a half pounds, fighting out of Irvine, California presenting the former UFC Strawweight Champion and number 6 strawweight contender of the world, Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza! And introducing her opponent: FIGHTING out of the red corner, a mixed martial artist holding a professional record of 15 wins and 3 losses standing 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing in at one hundred and fifteen pounds FIGHTING out of Rio Grande Do Norte, Brazil, presenting the number 3 strawweight contender in the world, Claudia “Claudinha” Gadhela!”
Sounds like a main card fight, right? Nope. This fight has been passed down to the prelims, much to the surprise of many. Two fighters of this caliber are sure to have a show-stopping fight worthy of the main card. However, this is good news for those fans who might not have 60 bucks to shell out for a pay-per-view as the fans are surely in for a brutal battle of brains and brawn.
Esparza’s name is automatically associated with wrestling and takedowns because, for all purposes, she is an insanely talented wrestler. But what makes her one of the best mixed martial artists in the world is that she can throw punches, too. And she uses those punches to set up takedowns; jabbing at the opponent, pushing them into a certain position so she can shoot in, like she did against Mayna Moroz at UFC Fight Night, Oklahoma City, in June of 2017.
Gadelha’s last fight against Jessica Andrade at UFC Fight Night in Japan was an absolute bloodbath. Both fighters were cut open early and covered the canvas with their blood. Though Gadelha put up a great fight, (at one point being pile driven into the mat, while stubbornly holding onto a guillotine attempt) Andrade turned the heat up that night and punched out a unanimous decision victory.
There is no doubt that both these women are excellent strikers and wrestlers. Esparza went against her norm during her last fight in December 2017 during UFC 219 when she faced Cynthia Calvillo, throwing more strikes than usual and only going for one takedown, but still coming out with a unanimous decision. Meanwhile, Gadelha handed Karolina Kowalkiewicz her first loss by submission, in June 2017 during UFC 212. Whether this match will be a ground grapple or a stand and strike remains to be seen, but one thing for sure, it will definitely be a match of the mind, where the smarter fighter will come out victorious.