In the co-main event of UFC 274 we saw a rematch of the very first strawweight title fight in the promotion’s history. The champion “Thug” Rose Namajunas (11-4) was looking to avenge her earlier loss when she faced former champion Carla Esparza (18-6).
The first fight between these two came all the way back in 2014 on the finale of The Ultimate Fighter. That season of TUF was designed to find the new strawweight champion and Carla Esparza won the UFC title by submitting Namajunas.
Esparza immediately dropped the title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Since losing the title, Esparza has gone 8-3 in the UFC. Honestly, I never thought I’d see Esparza fight for the title again. However, she’s won five fights in a row to earn this shot.
2021 was an incredible year for Rose Namajunas. After returning in 2020 to defeat Jessica Andrade, Rose was given a UFC title shot against Zhang Weili. Namajunas shocked everyone when she knocked Weili out in the first round with a head kick.
After that, she won the immediate rematch by decision. She’s the only woman in UFC history to have won a title twice in a given weight class.
UFC 274 Recap
The UFC 274 strawweight title fight kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Namajunas circles on the outside as Esparza inches her way to the center of the octagon. Esparza throwing some feints but neither fighter has thrown anything in the opening minute.
Esparza tries a superman punch that falls short of the mark. Namajunas continues to circle and gauge the range. Two minutes in and not a single strike has been landed thus far. Esparza tries a combination, but again, well short of the mark.
Namajunas continues to circle, but nothing being thrown and the boos are starting. Esparza comes forward and lands a left hook to land the first shot of the fight. Namajunas responds with a jab. One minute left in the round and the crowd isn’t pleased at the moment.
Sloppy striking attempts from Esparza then she rushes in. Nothing lands and Namajunas lands a jab. Esparza tries to throw again, but nothing lands. The round ends and the crowd boos like crazy. No idea who wins that round at UFC 274.
Entering the second at UFC 274 and we have to see some action here. The second starts and Esparza tries with a 1-2, but doesn’t land. Namajunas started to wave Esparza in trying to get her to come closer to engage.
Esparza gets deep on an entry for a takedown and gets Namajunas down for a second, but Namajunas is right back up and separates. Two minutes into the round and so far, both fighters have landed four total strikes.
Namajunas attempts to throw her jab, but it’s Esparza that lands a nice left hook. 90 seconds left in the round and nothing is happening. Esparza again tries to work her way in but nothing lands. Namajunas lands a left straight. Low kick from Esparza. The round ends and I think Esparza is up at UFC 274.
Entering the third at UFC 274 and that might have been the most uneventful two rounds of a title fight in history. Namajunas opens the second round throwing jabs to the body, but nothing lands.
Namajunas tries with a left hook and Esparza looks to counter. Neither really land, but I will say that Namajunas looks more aggressive here. Esparza gets in and gets shrugged off but lands a nice kick to the body.
Takedown from Esparza, but Namajunas gets right back to her feet. Check left hook from Esparza. Another nice left from Esparza and there’s some damage on the nose of Namajunas. Namajunas tries to work her way in and lands a nice uppercut.
Esparza tries for a takedown from too far away but lands a nice knee to the body. Two minutes left in the round and Namajunas lands a nice left straight. Esparza tries blitzing but catches a counter from the champion.
Esparza lands a nice straight shot and Namajunas just misses with the counter. The round comes to a close and again, I have no idea how to score this one. Probably a Namajunas round, but who the hell knows what’s going on at UFC 274.
Entering the fourth at UFC 274 and I think Esparza might be a couple of rounds ahead. Namajunas holds the center and lands a nice left hook. Calf kick from Esparza and then she tries for a takedown. However, Namajunas just shrugs her off.
Namajunas tries for a couple of jabs, but she’s too far away to land. Esparza gets a takedown and then jumps on the back of Namajunas. Namajunas shrugs her off and then Esparza lands a nice knee to the body. They break and they are unfortunately back to striking.
Esparza tries for another takedown attempt but can’t land. Namajunas looks for a couple of kicks, but nothing finds it’s home. Namajunas lands a couple of nice strikes but then Esparza gets in and slams her to the ground.
Namajunas rolls and uses it to break the position. Big right hand on the way up from the champion. Both fighters land jabs and there’s thirty seconds left in the round. The round comes to a close and we head to the final round and Esparza might be up on the scorecards at UFC 274.
Entering the final round at UFC 274 and whoever wins this round likely wins the fight but who the hell knows. Both fighters are throwing in the opening minute, but nothing close to landing. Body kicks exchanged by both.
Namajunas lands a nice right hand over the top. Namajunas comes in but eats a clean counter left hook from the challenger. Esparza holding the center as Namajunas circles on the outside. Leg kick from Esparza.
Blitz from Esparza and she lands a glancing left. Halfway through the final round and this one is rough to watch. Nice connection from Namajunas and then she lands a 1-2, but it wasn’t super clean.
Jab attempt from Namajunas just misses. Right straight lands from Namajunas. Final minute and the boos are more entertaining than this fight. Thirty seconds left and Esparza throws a right, but doesn’t come close to landing.
Front kick from Esparza. Namajunas shoots in and lands a takedown in the final seconds. That likely wins the round, but oh boy, these scorecards are going to be interesting.
Carla Esparza def. Rose Namajunas by Split Decision (48-47, 49-46, 47-48)