The final episode of this season’s The Ultimate Fighter aired last night, revealing which fighters will meet tomorrow to decide the inaugural UFC Women’s 115 lb. Champion.
They are Carla Esparza, who defeated Jessica Penne in last night’s show, and Rose Namajunas, who defeated Randa Markos.
Esparza, who is 9-2 in MMA, was the among the TUF20 preseason favorites. The 27 year old Californian, nicknamed “Cookie Monster,” was already a champion, having given up her Invicta FC 115 lb title to compete on The Ultimate Fighter. In fact, it’s been more than three years since her only MMA losses — and those were to a (now retired) legend of the sport in Megumi Fujii, and to current WSOF titleholder Jessica Aguilar.
Shortly after teams were chosen by coaches Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis, a system of “seeding” the fighters was announced. It was no surprise that Esparza was seeded #1.
But after dispatching a rookie in Angela Hill in her first TUF 20 bout, Esparza, noted for her wrestling acumen, struggled — earning a majority decision in a frustrating bout against Tecia Torres, then a difficult unanimous decision in the semi’s against Penne.
Esparza’s opponent for the title tomorrow, Rose Namajunas (pictured above), presents an interesting contrast.
Just 22, Namajunas was one of the show’s underdogs, seeded only thirteenth among the show’s eighteen competitors. She had just three professional MMA bouts to her name as the competition began, and was mainly known for a diverse striking attack.
But while Esparza would grind out most of her wins, the Milwaukee, WI native was a comparative “buzz saw” — slicing through her competition with three submission victories.
The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale will air on Fox Sports 1 tomorrow from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Namajunas and Esparza will meet in the main event, which will decide the first 115 lb champion in the promotion’s history. For a full fight card, see the article on our sister site MMA Convert.