Title fights in the journals of history have often carved indelible memories. Yet, the strawweight title clash between Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 will be remembered for all the not-so-good reasons.
The co-main event spotlighted Esparza and Namajunas in a rematch from their inaugural strawweight title face-off. In 2014, Esparza seized victory at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale, cementing herself as the first UFC strawweight champion. Years later, their paths converged again, with Namajunas now reigning in her second title tenure.
Once the battle began, familiarity between the rivals was evident. Regrettably, the action failed to ignite. What should’ve been a clash of champions became a five-round cautious affair, devoid of the fiery action fans expected
Gaining victory, Esparza secured her second divisional crown, but the aftermath centered on labeling it the division’s most lackluster encounter. It’s earmarked as one of UFC’s boring brawls, with fans resolutely believing Rose Namajunas should never have surrendered her title in such a fashion.
Officially, Namajunas outstruck Esparza 37-30, with a 27 percent significant strike connection rate. Yet, conceding two takedowns and brief back control proved pivotal. In a fight so devoid of decisive moments, these instances held weight. Judge Rick Winter underscored this by tallying 49-46 in favor of Esparza, a decision that perplexes Namajunas.
Rose Namajunas believed she won the fight even after losing her title
In the aftermath of UFC 274, Rose Namajunas, with a firm tone, expressed her dissatisfaction with the decision. “I won that fight,” she asserted during the post-fight press conference. Her conviction was rooted in her adherence to the strategy and her belief that she landed more impactful shots, even executing takedowns of her own.
Namajunas provided a detailed breakdown of why she believed she deserved the victory. Her control of the fight’s tempo through footwork and distance management, coupled with the damage inflicted, fueled her contention. “An overhand right landed super clean,” she pointed out, emphasizing the potency of her strikes.
Though her reasoning was compelling, the official scoring criteria didn’t account for strategy and defense as substantial factors. Regrettably for Namajunas, the unified rules favored different metrics. Consequently, her record against Esparza now stands at 0-2.
While she acknowledges Esparza’s skill, it’s unmistakable that Namajunas is disheartened by the loss of her title under these circumstances. As the dust settles on the match, it’s clear that Namajunas’ sentiments echo those of many fans.