Carla Esparza - First UFC Female Strawweight Champion

Carla Esparza - First UFC Female Strawweight Champion

1. Carla Esparza’s Details

Carla Esparza’s Details
Name Carla Kristen Esparza
Nickname The Cookie Monster
Born Torrance, California, USA
Date of Birth October 10, 1987
Weight Division Strawweight
Last Weight-in Strawweight
Height 5’1’’
Pro MMA Record 19-7-0 (Win-Loss-Draw)
Disclosed Career Earnings USD 594,000
Rank Brown Belt
Last Fight November 12, 2022, in UFC
Head Coach Colin Oyama
University Menlo College
Lineage  N/A
Fighting out of Redondo Beach, California, USA
Team Association Team Oyama
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2. Carla Esparza’s Biography

Carla Esparza is a professional American strawweight MMA fighter. She is popular for her outstanding grappling skills and techniques. Esparza is the first female to win the title of UFC First Strawweight and Invicta FC First Strawweight Champion. Along with MMA, she is a brown belt in BJJ. She has also been awarded the Fight of the Night and the Performance of the Night titles.  Esparza is married to Matthew Lomeli, and recently they had a son.

2.1. Carla Esparza’s Early Life

Carla Esparza was born on October 10, 1987, in Torrance, California, United States. She has been highly dedicated to athletic sports since she was a little girl. She studied at Renando Union High School and joined the boys' wrestling team. At first, she just took it randomly, but soon, her interest in wrestling developed, and she decided to pursue it as her career. She competed in national high-school wrestling competitions. Later, she got a National Association Intercollegiate Athletics scholarship at Menlo College. In the course of summer breaks, she joined kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, and boxing training academy to keep herself active. During her freshman year in college, she worked with Colin Oyama at Team Oyama.  She was also trained in wrestling under a two-time Olympian Champion, Lee Allen. In 2008 and 2009, she won the All-American Women's Wrestling Championship representing Menlo College.

“I feel like I'm constantly evolving and getting better and learning more things from my coach he has a really great style and he's always open to learning new techniques himself. So our team is constantly developing”.

2.2. Carla Esparza’s BJJ Training

In college, she joined Gracie Academy to learn Jiu-Jitsu. She was trained under Rener, Ralek, and Ryron Gracie. They promoted her from white to brown belt. In 2013, Espraza won a silver medal with a blue belt in the IBJJF Pan Championship.

2.3. Carla Espraza’s MMA Fights

Esparza had her pro-debut professional fight against Cassie Trost on February 19, 2010. She won the match via TKO. Then she had two more fights against Karina Hallinan and Lacey Schuckman, she won both the fights via submission.

Bellator MMA

After six months, she was invited by Bellator MMA to replace Angela Magana. She had a faceoff against Megumi Fujii. Esparza lost it via Armbar, but her grappling abilities made her a rising star.

Again, she was called by Bellator in June 2011 for a tournament. She competed against Jessica Aguilar but unfortunately again lost the bout.


By the end of 2011, Esparza made her debut XFC against Felice Herrig and won the bout.

Invicta FC

In May 2012, Esparza signed a contract with Invicta Fighting Championship. She had her debut against Sarah Schneider on July 28, 2018. She beat her opponent via TKO. In January 2013, Carla Esparza became the first Invicta FC Female Strawweight Championship Trophy. This victory was a massive achievement for her wrestling career.

‘You win and lose some; it's just part of this dangerous sport we play. I have no regrets, I worked hard and did my best’.

2.4. Carla Esparza UFC Career

Esparza’s name was added to the list of top female MMA fighters of her time. Finally, she was invited by UFC, the top MMA platform. She signed the contract on December 11, 2013. Esparza’s UFC debut fight was against Angela Hill in the elimination round, she won the match via RNC. After that, she had to fight against Tecia Torres and Jessica Penne in the quarter-final and semi-final rounds to become the finalist. She defeated both her opponents. Finally, she competed with a top fighter, Rose Namajunas, in the finals and took home the First UFC Strawweight Champion trophy. She also won the UFC 20 tournament and was awarded the Performance of the Night. The President of UFC, Dana White, praises Esparza after the tremendous fight:

“She performed a fantastic job. She was so dominant, both on her feet and on the ground. She easily beat her up. As I repeat every season, the greatest on the show rises to the top, and she most certainly did today."

In 2015, after she was knocked out by Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the second round, she got injured and had to go through shoulder surgery. She announced this news on Instagram:

‘I will be undergoing surgery as a result of a shoulder injury from my last fight. I will be out for 6-8 months.

Esparza returned back in 2016, competed against Juliana Lima, and won the bout via decision. She then competed against top female fighters like Cynthia Calvillo, Tatiana Suarez, Maryna Moroz, and Lívia Renata Souza and won most of the fights. In 2021, she was awarded the Fight of the Night title for the first time in her career after she defeated Alexa Grasso.

During the Pandemic, on June 03, 2020, Esparza’s manager, Brian Butler, announced that she had signed a new four-fight contract with UFC. In 2021, Esparza was awarded the Performance of the Night title for the second time after she beat Yan Xiaonan.

In 2022, a rematch was held between Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza. Esparza won the match and was awarded the UFC Strawweight Champion belt, but still, both competitors got criticized after the match, and this bout was declared the most boring fight in UFC history. Her last fight was with Zhang Weili; after that, she took a break from MMA due to her pregnancy. 

2.5. Carla Esparza’s Family

Carla Esparza is married to Matthew Lomeli, a family physician. They met on a dating app in 2020 during the pandemic. After a year of relationship, Lomeli proposed to Esperza, which she accepted. The couple married just after Esperza fought against Rose Namajunas on May 14, 2022. On September 23, 2023, they had a son, Donovan Lomeli. She shared this news on her Instagram account. Esparza also announced that she will be back in the ring in 2024.

“Excited for this new chapter in my life. I decided to stay home this year, and I am hoping to make my return early to mid-2024.’’

3. Carla Esparza’s Historic Fights

3.1. Carla Esparza vs Rose Namajunas

In 2022 at the UFC 274, a rematch occurred between Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas. Esparza tried a failed Superman punch during the first round, and both grapplers had no striking. In the second round, Esparza dragged down Namajunas for a few seconds but released herself. In the remaining rounds, they both exchanged only body kicks. Ultimately, Esparza won the fight by decision. This fight was regarded as UFC’s most boring fight of all time.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Weight Class
2022 UFC 274 Rose Namajunas Win Split Decision Strawweight

3.2. Carla Esparza vs Tatiana Suarez

In 2018 at the UFC 228, an exhilarating wrestling match was held between Carla Esparza and Tatiana Suarez. Suarez dragged down her opponent with an arm triangle and didn’t let Esparza move. Suarez continued hitting her until she had a bruise on her cheek and started bleeding. Esparza desperately tried to release herself but was again dumped down by Suarez. Suarez, on top and brutally punching her opponent, won the fight.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Weight Class
2018 UFC 228 Tatiana Suarez Loss TKO Strawweight

3.3. Carla Esparza vs Zhang Weili

In the 2022 UFC 281, a match took place between two strong MMA wrestlers, Carla Esparza and Zhang Weili. The first round ended with punches and elbows. Weili attacked her opponent in the second round via a rare naked choke, winning the bout and the UFC Champion title.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Weight Class
2022 UFC 281 Zhang Weili Loss RNC Strawweight

3.4. Carla Esparza vs Alexa Grasso

In 2019 at the UFC Fight Night 172, Carla Esparza faced Alexa Grasso. Both fighters fought aggressively, punching and kicking each other until they bled. Carla took full control over her opponent and won the fight by decision. After this fight, she was awarded the title of Fight of the Night for the first time in her MMA career.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Weight Class
2019 UFC Fight Night: Rodríguez vs. Stephens Alexa Grasso Win Decision Strawweight

4. Carla Esparza’s Top Achievements

4.1. MMA Main Achievements


  • 2x UFC Women's Strawweight Championship Winner (2014, 2022)
  • The Ultimate Fighter 20  Winner (2014)
  • 1x Fight of the Night (2019)
  • 2x Performance of the Night (2014, 2021)
  • Most Takedowns in UFC Women’s Strawweight Division
  • Most Wins in the UFC Women's Strawweight Division

Invicta FC

  • 1x Invicta FC Strawweight Championship (2013)

4.2. BJJ Main Achievements

  • IBJJF Pan Championship (Silver medalist- blue belt)

5. Carla Esparza’s MMA Professional Breakdown

29 matches 22 wins 7 losses
By knockout  4 2
By advantages 0 0
By submission  5 2
By decision  13 3
By penalties 0 0

5.1. Methods of Submission

Methods 5 Wins 2 Loss
Armbar  0 1
RNC  5 1

6. Carla Esparza’s MMA Fight History

Opponent W/L Method Competition Date Weight Round
Zhang Weili Loss Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC 281 November 12, 2022 Strawweight 2
Rose Namajunas Win Decision (split) UFC 274 May 7, 2022 Strawweight 5
Yan Xiaonan Win TKO (punches) UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Garbrandt May 22, 2021 Strawweight 2
Marina Rodriguez Win Decision (split) UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs. Till July 26, 2020 Strawweight 3
Michelle Waterson Win Decision (split) UFC 249 May 9, 2020 Strawweight 3
Alexa Grasso Win Decision (majority) UFC Fight Night: Rodríguez vs. Stephens September 21, 2019 Strawweight 3
Virna Jandiroba Win Decision (unanimous) UFC Fight Night: Jacaré vs. Hermansson April 27, 2019 Strawweight 3
Tatiana Suarez Loss TKO (punches and elbows) UFC 228 September 8, 2018 Strawweight 3
Cláudia Gadelha Loss Decision (split) UFC 225 June 9, 2018 Strawweight 3
Cynthia Calvillo Win Decision (unanimous) UFC 219 December 30, 2017 Strawweight 3
Maryna Moroz Win Decision (unanimous) UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Lee June 25, 2017 Strawweight 3
Randa Markos Loss Decision (split) UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Browne February 19, 2017 Strawweight 3
Juliana Lima Win Decision (unanimous) UFC 197 April 23, 2016 Strawweight 3
Joanna Jędrzejczyk Loss TKO (punches) UFC 185 March 14, 2015 Strawweight 2
Rose Namajunas Win Submission (rear-naked choke) The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned Finale December 12, 2014 Strawweight 3
Jessica Penne  Win Decision (unanimous) The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned December 10, 2014 Strawweight 3
Tecia Torres Win Decision The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned December 3, 2014 Strawweight 2
Angela Hill  Win Submission (RNC) The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned October 1, 2014 Strawweight 1
Bec Rawlings Win Decision (unanimous) Invicta FC 4: Esparza vs. Hyatt January 5, 2013 Strawweight 5
Lynn Alvarez Win TKO (punches) Invicta FC 3: Penne vs. Sugiyama October 6, 2012 Strawweight 1
Sarah Schneider Win TKO (punches) Invicta FC 2: Baszler vs. McMann July 28, 2012 Strawweight 2
Felice Herrig Win Decision (unanimous) XFC 15: Tribute December 2, 2011 Strawweight 3
Jessica Aguilar Loss Decision (split) Bellator 46 June 25, 2011 Strawweight 3
Yadira Anzaldua Win Submission (rear-naked choke) ECSC: Friday Night Fights 3 April 15, 2011 Strawweight 1
Nina Ansaroff Win Decision (split) Crowbar MMA: Winter Brawl December 10, 2010 Strawweight 3
Megumi Fujii Loss Submission (armbar) Bellator 24 August 12, 2010 Strawweight 2
Lacey Schuckman Win Submission (rear-naked choke) NMEF - Ladies Night: Clash of the Titans 8 July 16, 2010 Strawweight 2
Karina Hallinan Win Submission (rear-naked choke) Long Beach Fight Night 8 April 18, 2010 Strawweight 2
Cassie Trost Win TKO (punches) Respect in the Cage 3 February 19, 2010 Strawweight 1

7. Carla Esparza’s Top Fights

UFC 231 latest Fight׃ Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Carla Esparza Full HD 1080p (c)

Carla Esparza vs. Sarah Schneider

#UFC247 Pelea Gratis: Esparza vs Namajunas 1

Photo Credit: @carlaesparza1

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