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Carla Esparza submits Rose Namajunas to become the 1st UFC women’s strawweight champ

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The top 115 lb’er to enter the TUF 20 house leaves Las Vegas as a UFC champion tonight. Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza came into her title fight with “Thug” Rose Namajunas as an underdog even as the top seeded fighter in the 16-woman tournament. This can be credited to Namajunas finishing all three of her fights in the house via submission and showing a lot of flashy striking. She showed that same flash early on in her fight with Esparza where she came up short on just about every spinning attack and flying kick she threw early on. It was only a matter of time before the former Invicta title holder and now newly minted UFC champ would go into wrestle/GNP mode after surviving the initial storm of Namajunas.

Esparza would use her much improved striking to set up takedown after takedown in the 2nd and 3rd rounds which helped her score  RNC finish that she made look very easy at the 1:26 marker of the 3rd round and allow her to put “1st UFC women’s strawweight champion” on her resume moving forward. Her wrestling was far too dominant as she was able to wear down her opponent with her relentless pace and blue collar work ethic. She now awaits the winner of a #1 contenders match duel in Phoenix tomorrow night between two undefeated fighters in Brazilian Claudia Gadelha and Poland’s Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Before that, it’s time to soak it all in.

For Namajunas, this will not be her last title fight. Her natural skill set is just far too freakish and at the ripe young age of 22 she has plenty of time to tweak a couple of things and become even more dangerous. If she was a little more calculated in the first and didn’t look like a character in EA Sports UFC attempting every glamorous attack in the game then it may have been a different story. That may work against the other fighters on the roster but a veteran “distributor of pain” like Esparza was simply just too smart and too crafty on the night. Namajunas will be back and she will learn from her mistakes. This was technically only her fourth professional fight.

There were plenty of potential feel good underdog stories that could have come out of this season of TUF. Almost even more impressive though is seeing a fighter leave one title behind to enter, conquer and emerge with an even more impressive prize. Congratulations goes out to Carla Esparza and all of the women who competed in what was the most important season of TUF since the very first one.

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