Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza UFC 274 Betting Preview & Picks
UFC 274 will feature a pair of title fights as the main event will be headlined by champion Charles Oliviera and challenger No. 1, Justin Gaethje in the lightweight division.
However, before the main event of the evening begins, the co-main event will feature a women’s strawweight bout between champion Rose Namajunas and challenger No. 2, Carla Esparza.
This will be a rematch of a fight that happened nearly eight years ago where Carla Esparza came away with the victory via a rear-naked choke in the third round for the UFC’s inaugural strawweight title at “The Ultimate Fighter 20” finale.
Co-Main Event Matchup
Rose Namajunas (11-4-0)
Rose “Thug” Namajunas returns to defend her belt as she defeated No. 1 contender Weili Zhang in UFC 268 via a split decision. Ever since the bout with Esparza, Namajunas is 9-2, cementing herself as the third in the Women’s Pound-For-Pound behind Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes.
This is the second time Rose held the belt as she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a first-round victory at UFC 217. She defended her belt against Jedrzejczyk once again at UFC 223 at UFC via a unanimous decision.
She enters this bout against Esparza after beating Weili Zhang twice, first by KO and then by split decision. Namajunas is 4-0 in rematches as she looks for a fifth this Saturday. She is the only female fighter in UFC history to have multiple title reigns in a single weight class.
Out of her 11 career wins, she has accumulated two wins via KO/TKO, five submissions, and four decisions.
“Thug” Rose has a strike accuracy rate of 41 percent and a takedown accuracy rate of 56 percent. She also has a significant strikes landed per minute rate of 4.01 and absorbs 3.88.
Namajunas has a significant strike defense rate of 59 percent while the takedown defense rate is at 51 percent. Per 15 minutes, her takedown average is 1.78 while her submission average is 0.69.
Carla Esparza (18-6-0)
On the other side of the octagon, Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza is ranked No. 2 in the division behind former champion Weili Zhang and current champion Rose Namajunas. She became the strawweight champ when defeated Rose back in December 2014. She also was the first Invicta FC strawweight champion before joining the UFC.
Esparza hasn't competed for the title since losing to Joanna Jedrzejczyk by TKO in the second round at UFC 185 in March 2015. Things didn't get any easier for her as in the next six fights she had a record of 3-3. Two of her three losses during that stretch came by split decision, and the other was by TKO.
Now, Carla has a five-fight win streak going into Saturday. She has proven that she is ready to prove herself as she faces her toughest test in a very long time.
Taking a look at her wins throughout her professional career, she has accumulated four wins via KO/TKO, four submissions, and ten decisions.
“Cookie Monster” has a strike accuracy rate of 43 percent and a takedown accuracy rate of 37 percent. She also has a significant strikes landed per minute rate of 2.34 and absorbs 2.75.
Esparza has a significant strike defense rate of 53 percent while the takedown defense rate is at 48 percent. Per 15 minutes, her takedown average is 3.53 while her submission average is 0.34.
Odds for Namajunas vs Esparza
Esparza has a strong five-win streak coming into Saturday. Carla has proven that she can finish fights and is a former All-American wrestler.
However, Namajunas is such a different fighter since their last bout in 2014. Upon entering the UFC, Rose looks like she was learning the ins and outs of the sport. Esparza is unlikely to succeed in out grappling or finishing Namajunas.
The fight will mostly be on the feet in the earlier rounds. Esparza could land a takedown but Namajunus will most likely get back up. After landing some leg kicks, Rose could land a rear-naked choke and end the fight in the later rounds. If an early stoppage doesn’t take place, she could win by decision.
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