Women’s MMA has come a long way in the past couple of years. The UFC recently added a bantamweight division and crowned Ronda Rousey its champion; Bellator is planning a flyweight tournament; and the Invicta Fighting Championships has now crowned its second titleholder.
Carla Esparza won the vacant Invicta strawweight title with her unanimous decision victory over Bec Hyatt on Saturday night. The California native swept all of the judges’ scorecards with identical 50-45 scores.
It wasn’t an easy bout for Esparza, who entered the fight as the clear favorite to win the title. Hyatt proved to be the better striker and landed multiple power shots throughout the fight. In fact, she almost finished the bout when she rocked Esparza late in the fifth round.
However, Esparza was resilient. She used her superior grappling to keep the fight on the ground. Whenever Hyatt got back to her feet, Esparza would immediately take her back to the mat. In the end, her suffocating top game won her the fight and the 115-pound belt.
With the victory, Esparza became the first person to win the Invicta strawweight championship. The significance of this win isn’t lost on Esparza.
“It’s groundbreaking,” Esparza said prior to the fight. “It makes me a pioneer. I’m going to go down in history for this all-women’s promotion to win the first 115-pound title. It’s just a dream.”
That’s exactly what she did. Esparza will be known throughout MMA history for this accomplishment. Many women have fought for the opportunity to be champions in MMA, but Esparza is now one of the few to actually reach her goal. Hopefully, this victory is another step in the right direction for women’s MMA.
Here are the results from Invicta 4:
Laura Marcusse-Sanko def. Cassie Robb via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:07
Veronica Rothenhausler def. Katalina Malungahu via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 1:12
Tecia Torres def. Paige Van Zant via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Rose Namajunas def. Emily Kagan via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 3:44
Jodie Esquibel def. Liz McCarthy via majority decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Tamikka Brents def. Amanda Bell via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Cassie Rodish def. Stephanie Frausto via technical knockout (strikes) – Round 3, 1:04
Joanne Calderwood def. Livia Von Plettenberg via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Ediane Gomes def. Hiroko Yamanaka via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Sarah D’Alelio def. Amanda Nunes via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Leslie Smith def. Raquel Pennington via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Alexis Davis def. Shayna Baszler via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 0:58
Carla Esparza def. Bec Hyatt via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) to win the Invicta strawweight title.