Referee John McCarthy raises Carla Esparza's hand in victory after she won the Invicta FC Strawweight championship. Photo Credit: Esther Lin - Invicta FC

Carla Esparza ready to make first title defense


Invicta FC Strawweight champion Carla Esparza began 2013 with a win over Bec Hyatt and championship gold around her waist.

At Invicta FC 7, “The Cookie Monster” is scheduled to take on Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and undefeated star Claudia Gadelha in the main event at Invicta FC 7, Dec. 7. For Esparza, this will be the first big test of her championship reign.

Esparza was originally supposed to take on Gadelha at Invicta FC 4. Gadelha had been a replacement for Ayaka Hamasaki, who was defending her Jewels Lightweight title in Japan. Unfortunately Gadelha withdrew from the match after a broken nose and Esparza would defeat Hyatt in a classic bout to win the strawweight title.

Esparza and Hamasaki were scheduled to meet at Invicta FC 6, but the Cookie Monster pulled out of the fight due to injury. Gadelha stepped up to fight Hamasaki at the event and finished the Jewels champion in the third round via TKO.

As for this match, Gadelha may have the advantage when it comes to the ground, though Esparza’s own Brazilian jiu-jitsu experience and wrestling background could keep the BJJ world champion from finishing her with a submission.

One factor that could come into play is conditioning. While Esparza went for five rounds for the first time in her last fight, Gadelha has yet to go past the third round.

Both fighters have also displayed some impressive striking in their last matches, particularly Esparza, who had back-to-back TKO wins prior to her fight with Hyatt.

If Esparza defeats Gadelha, she will cement her place as one of the top strawweights in the world. Personally – and I have said this hundreds of times – I would love to see her fight Jessica Aguilar in a rematch. Aguilar defeated Esparza in 2011 by a split-decision in one of the best fights in Bellator history.

 

Who do you think will win this match? Answer with a comment below, send a tweet to @alstover and email alstovermma@gmail.com.

Tags: Carla Esparza Claudia Gadelha Invicta FC WMMA