Carla Esparza lost a razor-thin decision to former title contender Claudia Gadelha on the preliminary card of last weekend’s (Sat., June 9, 2018) UFC 225 from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, but she isn’t giving up that easily.
The inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champion appeared on today’s episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss the fight, first stating that she felt good about the fight because she felt she won:
“It’s a little bit difficult. It sucks not getting your hand raised. But honestly, I didn’t walk out of the cage or you know, I’m not feeling now like I should have my head down. I feel like I should have my head held high. I personally feel like I won the fight, I know a lot of the fans agree with that. So I feel good other than you know, half the paycheck, I feel pretty good about the fight.”
Esparza detailed which rounds she thought she won, focusing on her view that Gadelha just got takedowns and “held on for dear life” without doing anything with them:
“I personally think I won rounds one and three. I definitely think throughout the fight I inflicted the majority of the damage. I mean, you know, as you could see, I really didn’t get beat up too bad. I felt like she got some takedowns and she was able to kind of, she was just holding on for dear life and didn’t really inflict much damage in the fight. And it’s a fight, to me, you wanna win, I feel like you have to do something, you know?”
She wasn’t sure how the judges were scoring the bout, but thought they may have overvalued takedowns:
“You never know. I definitely think she got more takedowns and had more control time. Maybe just certain judges just kid of score more heavily on takedowns and control even if there’s not a lot of damage done. I think a lot of judges tend to not be on the same page.
“You know, obviously it was a split decision so one judge felt differently, but you know, it is what it is, I don’t want to be like, a sore loser, but personally I felt I won the fight.”
Helwani then asked if she said anything to Gadelha, with whom she’s had a behind-the-scenes rivalry with for several years apparently, and Esparza said she didn’t.
That’s when things got serious, however, as Esparza accused her Brazilian rival of greasing at UFC 225:
“No, I just shook her hand. I always try and be respectful to coaches, regardless of what happens in the fight, and my opponent, shook her hand. Personally, I had things to say to her, I mean, flat out, this is not an excuse because I lost because I felt that I still won, but she cheated in the fight. She greased before the fight. I was considering saying something to the ref in between the fight. I was going to say, ‘she’s greasing, she’s greasing,’ but I didn’t really know how to go about it.
“It’s pretty shady to me, and I rewatched like I said, I finally rewatched the fight and my hands were slipping right off, even when I was trying to grab armbars in the fight, my arms were just like slipping right down. She’s a cheater, but it doesn’t really surprise me. In my opinion, she’s been a dirty fighter throughout, so it is what it is.”
Esparza said she hadn’t been told Gadelha was a dirty fighter by any of her past opponents, but ultimately she wasn’t’ surprised that she was:
“No, not at all. But just throughout her career, I just felt, like I said, I’m not too surprised that she’s a cheater and she found a way. It’s kind of upsetting, because like I said, I felt that I won it anyway, but I just felt like things could have even been more dominant on my side had that not been in the case.”
The former champion then closed by issuing a concise message to Gadelha that she was a cheater:
“Claudia, you’re a cheater, straight up. It’s not cool. But it is what it is; it’s done with.”