Carla Esparza became a champion in this sport by doing what she does best. Her unforgiving wrestling style and relentless takedowns earned her Invicta gold when she went 5 rounds with Bec Hyatt earlier this year at Invicta FC 4. This coming Saturday, she’ll make the first defense of her title against the opponent she was originally slated to fight back in January for the then vacant strawweight strap, Claudia Gadelha.
With the recent news of the 115 lbs division heading to the UFC you can expect to see Invicta’s resident ‘Cookie Monster’ right at the top of the list of threats for that version of UFC gold . Right now though the task at hand is the current undefeated Invicta number one contender that will be looking to take what’s hers on Saturday night in Kansas City. Carla was nice enough to give us a few moments of her time to talk about Claudia, news of the UFC bringing in her division, and much more in this exclusive interview below. Respect the singlet.
Dave Reno: Recently, UFC President Dana White revealed that the UFC will be adding a women’s strawweight divison and they will be doing so sooner rather than later. What was your first reaction upon hearing this news and where did you hear it?
Carla Esparza: Shock. I’d heard rumors, but people were also saying it wouldn’t happen for quite awhile, so I was pleasantly surprised.
DR: Unfortunately for Jessica Aguilar, she signed with World Series of Fighting just days before the news broke of the UFC bringing in the 115 lbs division. Do you have any desire to avenge your loss against seeing that it’s not only your lone loss against a currently active opponent?
CE: Of course I do. I have been asking for that fight since the week after we fought. And I have been pretty vocal about it. Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.
DR: Your friend Ashlee Evans-Smith told us in an interview before her CFA title fight last month that your first pro fight was the first MMA fight she ever witnessed. What was the first fight you remember seeing and who were some of your earliest influences that got you into this sport?
CE: Wow, I don’t even think I knew that! The first fight I ever saw in person was the one that Team Oyama put on back in summer of 2007 I believe, but I’ve seen SO MANY fights since then, it’s hard to remember the specific fights.
DR: You were supposed to fight Claudia Gadelha last year at Invicta FC 4 but a broken nose forced her off the card. This is clearly a fight that has destiny written all over it and it’s one that the fans have been looking forward to for a while now. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Gadelha’s game and how excited are you to make that all important first defense of your title?
CE: Yes, this fight has been a long time coming. When I think of Claudia as a fighter, I think jiu jitsu (since she is a black belt and 3x world champ) and fast starter (since she has 7 1st round finishes). I’m excited to get the opportunity to defend my belt, I feel this will really make me a true champion.
DR: Alright, I gotta know – what started this whole ‘Cookie Monster’ craze?
CE: Haha, that’s easy, I love and am always eating cookies, and my coach, Colin Oyama, called me out on it. I think I was grabbing about 5 cookies from a plate at the gym, and he was like “man, you are a freaking Cookie Monster,” and that’s how it began.
Her fight against Claudia Gadelha is one of three title fights on Invicta FC’s stacked 7th offering which you can either order here or by contacting your local cable provider.
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