Rose Namajunas vs Carla Esparza
May 7, 2022 11:30 pm EDT
The Line: Carla Esparza +175 / Rose Namajunas -205
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Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza fight Saturday in UFC 274 at the Footprint Center. Namajunas enters this fight with a 11-4 record and has won 45 percent of her fights by submission. Esparza enters this fight with a 18-6 record and has won 56 percent of her fights by decision.
Namajunas has won six of her last seven fights and is coming off a November win over Zhang Weili. Namajunas is averaging 4.01 significant strikes per minute, with an accuracy percentage of 41 percent. Namajunas is averaging 1.78 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 56 percent. Namajunas is coming off a decision win at UFC 268 where she landed 130 total strikes and produced two takedowns. In a controversial split decision, Namajunas has a chance to win four straight fights for the first time in her career. Namajunas is an aggressive pressure fighter who likes to stay busy by working the jab and mixing in kicks. Namajunas has two knockout victories under her belt, and she’s proven to be somebody who can hold her own standing up and has a very technical approach to her attack where she picks her spots well. Namajunas is also proven on the canvas and has creative submission holds. Namajunas has used the rear-naked choke four times to finish fights, and seems to be a bit more comfortable on the ground or in the clinch. This will be Namajunas’ first career fight in Arizona.
Esparza has won each of her last five fights and is coming off a May (2021) win over Yan Xiaonan. Esparza is averaging 2.34 significant strikes per minute, with an accuracy percentage of 43 percent. Esparza is averaging 3.53 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 37 percent. Esparza is coming off a knockout win at UFC Fight Night 188 that earned performance of the night honors. In the victory, Esparza landed 170 total strikes and produced three takedowns. Esparza now has four career knockouts and looks for six straight wins for the first time in her career. Esparza has a background in wrestling and is a brown belt in BJJ, so she’s often looking for the takedown where she can unleash effective ground and pound on the canvas or throw elbows and knees in the clinch. Esparza lands a good portion of her significant strikes on the ground, where she’s most comfortable. When Esparza is able to get her hands on her opponent, she likes her chances to control the fight and eventually come out victorious. The issue is Esparza’s fights can often be tough to call, but she’s won 10 of her 13 career decisions. This will be Esparza’s first career fight in Arizona.
You can make a case for either fighter here because they should both get their style fight that makes them most comfortable. A lot of clinching and grappling. With that said, Namajunas is the bigger fighter, with a four-inch height advantage and two inch reach advantage. Namajunas also pushes the pace more and lands far more shots on her feet. And while Esparza is more successful with her takedowns, it’s Namajunas who is tougher with her takedown defense and does a better job of gaining control once on the ground. In a pressure fight, I just have more confidence in Namajunas.
I’ll lay the juice here with Thug Rose.