From start to finish, Carla Esparza put her skills on display as she floored the unorthodox and nimble Rose Namajunas with takedowns, and ultimately got the submission finish early in the third round. Even though Rose came out and looked to put pressure on Esparza with her highly aggressive kicking game, Esparza powered through Rose’s best strikes and put her on the mat time and time again with explosive takedowns. In the top position, Rose showcased her infamous active guard game, but Esparza one-upped it with constant movement on her on part, and heavy strikes from above. Esparza never settled in her guard though, and constantly looked to pass and do damage with high volume.
It looked like Rose Namajunas was able to handle it pretty well early on, but as the fight grew on it was clear that Rose wasn’t going to be able to stifle Esparza’s suffocating wrestling game. At the end of the second round, Carla nearly had Rose finished as she teed off with punches from the back mount. She picked up where she left off in the third round, took her down, mounted her, landed some big punches, and then sunk in the rear naked choke to become the UFC’s first ever women’s strawweight champion, and The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 Winner.
Heading into the fight, a lot of people were predicting Namajunas to be able to constantly attack off her back if Esparza put her on the mat. However, Esparza hovered over her and never committed to any positioning, so Namajunas could never grab anything. Ultimately, Esparza’s wrestling and non-stop pressure was able to completely nullify any grappling Rose wanted to do, and eventually opened up the window for the tap in the third round.