Carla Esparza won TUF 20 and was crowned the UFC’s inaugural strawweight champ. Then she ran into Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and, well, you know what happened next. Since then, Esparza has struggled, and tonight she gets to face top ranked Claudia Gadelha.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Gadelha has had two chances to get past Jedrezjczyk but just couldn’t manage it, and most recently lost to Jessica Andrade. But you know what? She’s a badass, and one of the best.

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Gadelha comes out ready to throw hands, and immediately starts cutting off the cage to get her always-moving foe to stop moving. Meanwhile, Esparza wants to throw hands too, and soon she lands a right hand that has Gadelha wobbling. The former champ takes her down, and after some cursory ground and pound, Gadelha’s jiu-jitsu takes over and Esparza is struggling to escape from the bottom.

More trading in Round 2, with Esparza trying to find that sweet spot once more and Gadelha starting to look like she fell out of a moving pickup truck. But once again Esparza is taken down, and Gadelha racks up more points.

Esparza has more success on the feet in the third, and when Gadelha takes her down, Esparza reverses and delivers some punishment. This is far and away the best Esparza has ever looked. Time expires and it goes to the judges.

Results: Claudia Gadelha def. Carla Esparza via Split Decision