Round 1 – Feeling-out process to begin, with Namajunas back on her heels. She’s daring Esparza to close distance. No strikes thrown in the first minute. Esparza presses forward with a Superman punch that does nothing. They remain separated. Two minutes in, and neither fighter has landed anything or thrown much. Esparza lands a left hand on the way in, but it’s quick. Namajunas lands a jab. Both women are being strategic and sticking to their game plans. Namajunas lands another quick left. Esparza tries rushing in, but Namajunas evades. This was a VERY lackluster round. So hard to score, but if we’re going back center control of the cage, then it’s Esparza 10-9 (we guess?).
Round 2 – Namajunas assumes the center of the cage now. A lot of movement in the first minute but no action. Finally a shot from Esparza, a good entry, but it’s defended nicely by Namajunas. Two minutes in, and that’s the biggest action of the fight so far. Esparza ducks under a left and throws one of her own on the way up, may have landed barely. Namajunas says something to Esparza with 90 seconds left, not sure what it is. Namajunas lands a straight left. Esparza lands a leg kick. The crowd is now doin the wave. That’s how boring this round has been. One final front kick from Esparza lands on the chest. Again, we’re gonna go 10-9 Esparza (we guess?).
Round 3 – Namajunas assumes the center of the cage, but Esparza meets her there. They throw right hands at the same time 50 seconds in, but that’s it. Namajunas lands a right, then Esparza shoots in, but it’s defended. Esparza shoots in a second time and gets it, but Namajunas bounces back up. Nice left hand from Esparza. Two minutes in, more action this time. Esparza now is trying to shoot from too far out. She does it a second time, and Namajunas just misses on the break. Namajunas lands a counter left as Esparza rushes in from far away. Esparza is out of range with a Superman punch. Decent 1-2 from Namajunas. She also grazes a right hand to close the round. A little bit more action but NOT THAT MUCH MORE. That was a Namajunas round 10-9.
Round 4 – Esparza closes distance with a shot that gets stuffed about a minute in, and Namajunas lands a left on the break. Another shot from Esparza that scores, and she briefly gets Namajunas’ back, but she’s too high and loses it. They’re back to standing. Esparza shoots in again halfway through, doesn’t get it, but she lands a left on the way out. Namajunas lands a decent right hand when Esparza closes in. Now with 90 seconds left, Esparza gets another takedown. She drags her backward and takes the back, but Namajunas rolls out of it and lands a left on the break. Most action of the round right there. This was a pretty clear Esparza round 10-9.
Round 5 – One minute in, and again nothing happening. Esparza rushes in but can’t get close. A nice right hand from Namajunas. Esparza lands a counter-left that snaps Namajunas’ head back. A leg kick from Esparza lands, and she grazes with a left. Namajunaas lands a nice right hand with about 2:30 remaining. Namajunas looks frustrated, but she’s also decided to not engage much, showing respect for Esparza’s grappling. This round is still up for grabs with 90 seconds left. Esparza misses with a big right. Namajunas shoots for a takedown and gets it in the final 10 seconds. That probably gives her the round 10-9, but we’ve got Esparza winning the fight 48-47. BUT HONESTLY WHO THE HELL KNOWS?
Result: Carla Esparza def. Rose Namajunas via split decision (47-48, 49-46, 48-47)
Recap: UFC 274 results: Carla Esparza reclaims strawweight gold, defeats Rose Namajunas again in uneventful title fight
Photos: Carla Esparza vs. Rose Namajunas fight photos
Records: Rose Namajunas (11-5 MMA, 9-4 UFC), Carla Esparza (19-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC)
Division: Women’s strawweight
Referee: Keith Peterson
Judging: Eric Colon (47-48), Rick Winter (49-46), Brad Frank (48-47)