Recently, Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas to become the first ever UFC strawweight champion in a win that Esparza says “felt like a dream.”
Going into the bout, many were favoriting Namajunas, who defeated all 3 of her opponents on the show via submission.
Esparza spoke to MMAFighting about the win, and why it didn’t sink until just recently.
“I was extremely nervous as for every fight, but definitely this one had a lot of pressure riding on it,” she says. “Especially because not only was it a UFC fight, but there was so much build-up and I was such an underdog. Just being the number-one seed, I just felt like I really wanted to perform out there. I definitely felt the pressure on this one. It was actually very taxing on me mentally preparing for this fight.
“In the cage I brought it all together and came home with the gold.”
“It was an amazing feeling. It felt like a dream. It didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel real until, honestly, probably [last Sunday] for me. Even my instructor, Giva Santana, texted me yesterday. He said, ‘I go to sleep, you’re the champion and I wake up and you’re the champion. I’m finally starting to realize it’s not a dream’. That’s kind of how I feel, too.”