Carla Esparza has seen a lot in her mixed martial arts career. The UFC strawweight won the inaugural Invicta FC Strawweight Championship, the Ultimate Fighter Season 20 Finale, and the inaugural UFC Strawweight Championship. She also has shared a cage with some of the best females fighters in the world. For as much as experience she has, she will have to do something that she is not used to doing on Saturday night.
For just the second time in her career the 31 year old will fight a late replacement fighter after her original opponent Livia Renata Souza withdrew from their scheduled match up at UFC on ESPN+ 8 in Ft. Lauderdale. Esparza (13-6) will now take on undefeated Virna Jandiroba (14-0), who will make her UFC debut.
“I always study my opponents and break them down with my coaches,” said Esparza in her prefight interview. “So now it’s like we have to go through that process all over again and kind of get my mindset onto somebody else.”
While it’s a quick turn around for a new game plan and a new fighter, “The Cookie Monster” does not seemed worried about not having enough time to prepare.
“In reality you never know with whoever you fight, what they’re going to throw at you, so you always have to be ready for anything” Esparza said.
Jandiroba, who currently sits as the Invicta Strawweight Champion, will vacate her belt to take on the former UFC champion. Esparza is not intimidated by Jandiroba’s unbeaten record; in fact she feels that Jandiroba has never faced a fighter with talent like herself.
“I was the Invicta champion. I was the UFC champion. I’ve been in the UFC for years, and I’ve been ranked in the top of my division for many years” Esparza said.
While confident that she will get the job done on Saturday, she will not over look Jandiroba, because she is expecting Jandiroba to come out and try to make a big splash in her UFC debut. However, if things go Esparza’s way on Saturday, she will eye another run into title contention.
“I know I have it inside me to fight to be at that level and to fight for another title. I’m not stopping now,” said the current ninth ranked UFC strawweight. “I’m constantly evolving and constantly getting better.
Esparza will enter Saturday’s fight on a two fight-losing streak, but she holds a win against current Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas, when the two met for the inaugural belt. Esparza and Namajunas are two of the three women to ever hold the UFC strawweight gold strap with the third being the division’s most successful champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.