Carla Esparza stops Yan Xiaonan in the second round at UFC Vegas 27
Carla Esparza compounded what has been a miserable month for Chinese MMA as she handed Yan Xiaonan her first loss since inside the octagon. The strawweight fight at UFC Vegas 27 was the latest in a long line of disappointments for fighters from that country.
Yan’s compatriot, Weili Zhang, shot to stardom when she became strawweight champion in 2019 in a landmark moment for the sport. But the Hebei native lost the strap in dramatic fashion when she was knocked out by Rose Namajunas at UFC 261 in April.
In the aftermath #3-ranked Yan had expressed a desire to avenge her compatriot’s loss. To do that she needed to get through Esparza but the former champion had other ideas. Esparza was the promotion’s first-ever 115lbs champion having beaten Namajunas in the final of TUF 20 in 2014.
The #4 ranked fighter rolled back the years here with a truly dominant display. Coming into the fight riding a four-fight winning streak, the 33-year-old took Xiaonan down straight away.
Xiaonan landed some elbows from bottom but did little to try and escape the position. Esparza postured up and fired off a right hand.
Returning to side control, Esparza dished out some elbows of her own before transitioning to the north-south position as she looked for the kimura. There was a hint of an armbar available for the American before she unleashed another vicious elbow that opened a deep cut on Yan’s forehead.
Esparza scored a single leg at the start of the second stanza then went to work with elbows and punches from side control before lining up the crucifix. Xiaonan was powerless to stop the onslaught and the punishment became relentless.
As Esparza continued to fire off punches, Xiaonan simply had no response and succumbed to the second loss of her career as her record slipped to 13-2. Esparza climbs to 18-6 and her put herself right back in the mix for the strawweight strap.
“I am so stoked,” Esparza said after the victory. “I’ve been working so hard on my wrestling this camp. I’ve been working to secure those finishes. It’s a lot easier to fight someone who wants to fight. I want a chance to fight for that title. I think that’s a fight everyone wants to see. Come on, Dana (White) let’s make it happen.”
“That title fight is mine.”
After another dominant win, @CarlaEsparza1 only has eyes on gold and a rematch with strawweight champion Rose Namajunas.
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— UFC News (@UFCNews) May 23, 2021
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