UFC 274 fight card primer: Namajunas vs. Esparza II

Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza at ceremonial weigh-ins for UFC 274.
Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza at ceremonial weigh-ins for UFC 274. | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Get up to date on the co-main event of UFC 274 between Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza. 

The co-main event of UFC 274 will feature a strawweight fight between Rose Namajunas (11-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) and Carla Esparza (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC). UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje airs live from Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona this Saturday, May 7th. The main card will start with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT, with the ESPN/ESPN+ prelims beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT and the early prelims kicking off at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT.

How do these two stack up?

Namajunas: 29 years old | 5’5” | 65” reach

Esparza: 34 years old | 5’1” | 63” reach

What have these two done recently?

Namajunas: W – Zhang Weili (DEC) | W – Zhang Weili (KO) | W – Jéssica Andrade (SD)

Esparza: W – Yan Xiaonan (TKO) | W – Marina Rodriguez (SD) | W – Michelle Waterson (SD)

How did these two get here?

The rematch between Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza has arrived. More than seven years ago, these two fought through a season of The Ultimate Fighter and vied for the inaugural strawweight championship at the TUF 20 finale. The night belonged to the ‘Cookie Monster’ who submitted ‘Thug’ via third-round rear-naked choke to earn her second world title (the first was against Bec Rawlings for the inaugural Invicta FC strawweight championship).

Following her loss to Esparza, Namajunas found her footing in the division and went 4-1 in her next five appearances. The 29-year-old was eventually awarded her second championship opportunity against then-champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 217. She did what was considered unthinkable, finishing Jędrzejczyk inside of one round. An immediate rematch was booked for UFC 223, but Namajunas would still emerge victorious against ‘JJ.’ Unfortunately, Namajunas did not get to hold on to her championship for long, as she was brutally knocked out with a slam against Jéssica Andrade at UFC 237. The rematch with Andrade went better, and Namajunas solidified her status as the No. 1 contender, which ultimately led to a fight against Zhang Weili. Similar to her first win over Jędrzejczyk, the Trevor Wittman-trained fighter shocked the world with a stunning head kick KO of ‘Magnum’ at UFC 261, becoming the first female two-time champion in UFC history. Namajunas met Weili again at UFC 268, where she successfully defended her title with a split decision win.

Esparza immediately dropped the strawweight championship, suffering a second-round technical knockout loss to Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 185. The 34-year-old would then go 3-3 in six fights before going on an extended run that saw her defeat the likes of Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez. In her most recent appearance, Esparza finished Yan Xiaonan at UFC Vegas 27 and was given her title shot against Namajunas.

Why should you care?

Is it going to be revenge for Namajunas or repeat for Esparza? Tune in on Saturday night!

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Author: Kristen King
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