Former UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza is currently on a four-fight win streak. In fact, it’s the longest win streak that she rides since entering the UFC in 2014. With her newfound resurgence, Carla not only wants to prove to fans that she isn’t a gatekeeper to the 115lb division. Esparza also wants to make it clear that she wants the next title shot against Weili Zhang.
The Career of the Cookie Monster
Esparza has been through a lot of ups and downs throughout her professional career. She’s also faced loads of criticism along the way. As the inaugural UFC strawweight champion, many fans don’t give Carla the respect that she earned, stating that her title reign was a placeholder until the arrival of Joanna Jędrzejczyk. However, Esparza remains relevant in the division, currently ranked #7 in the world.
Carla Esparza on Title Aspirations
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Esparza expressed her desire to reclaim the throne. With new tools in her arsenal, Carla is eyeing a matchup against the current champion, Weili Zhang.
“I feel like I’m kind of the gatekeeper for the young up and comers. I’m tired of being that gatekeeper. I feel like I’m ready for another title shot,” said Carla. I feel like I’m the next fight that makes sense. There’s a lot of people that are out right now, or coming off losses and, for me, I’ve been knocked down and I’ve been crawling my way back to get that shot.”
“I would say I am ready for that fight (with Weili) and with everything going on in the world, it would be like stars aligning. It’s kind of worked out this way and everything is lining up with Rose (Namajunas) out, Tatiana (Suarez) has a neck injury, Nina (Ansaroff) is pregnant and there’s a lot going on in this division right now. I’m coming off four straight wins against tough competition and I think the stars are aligning for this opportunity. My hands are open.”
State of the Division
Esparza has clearly spent a long time figuring out the logistics of how to get to Zhang. In fact, everything that she has said describes the state of the division. Now, it’ll be up to Carla to keep winning and for the UFC to give her the opportunity. That way, she can prove to herself and the fans that she isn’t a gatekeeper.