Anthony Pettis wasn’t the only now, former champ, who had a tough night at UFC 185, as Carla Esparza was badly outgunned by Joanna Jedrzejczyk in what was the strawweight’s first title defence.
While Esparza showcased an impressive chin in the co-headliner, the 27 year-old was unable to take Jedrzejczyk to the mat, and was eventually stopped by the noted striker in round two. The bout followed Esparza’s impressive, submission win over Rosa Namajunas in December, which saw her become the UFC’s first 115 pound champion.
Well, recently former bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz appeared on MMA Junkie.com Radio, and he weighed in on Esparza’s performance. Here is some of what Cruz had to say about the pressures of being champion, and Esparza’s defeat.
“You’re shocked with the pressure,” Cruz said. “It will flip your head around and bring you to reality super-fast when you become a world champion.”
“From this, she’s going to grow and become a better fighter,” Cruz added. “Don’t count her out. But she does need to figure out a way to become more mentally tough through those situations.”
Following the loss, Esparza relayed that she didn’t feel like herself on Saturday night, to which Cruz stated: “I understand what she’s saying, but she needs to understand: Welcome to the big leagues.”
How’s that for some fair, and yet, very direct advice? Based off what Esparza showcased during TUF 20 and in her championship victory over Namajunas, chances are she’s going to remain a top contender. It will be interesting to see, however, how she rebounds from the defeat.
As far as Cruz, the former champ is recovering from yet another ACL injury and it remains to be seen when the 29 year-old will fight again. Cruz returned to the Octagon last September and quickly took out Takeya Mizugaki, which was the American’s first bout since October, 2011.