Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight Carla Esparza faced her long-time rival Claudia Gadelha on Saturday night at UFC 225. Gadelha edged out a very competitive fight, earning a razor thin split-decision victory over Esparza.
Esparza appeared on the latest episode of “The MMA Hour” and told host Ariel Helwani that she felt Gadelha had “greased” up before the fight, making her difficult to get a hold of.
“She cheated in the fight; she greased before the fight,” Esparza told Helwani. “I was considering saying something to the referee in between [rounds]. I was going to say, ‘She’s greasing! She’s greasing’, but I didn’t really know how to go about it.”
After Esparza watched the replay of the fight she stands by her statement that something was definitely off with the Brazilian.
“It’s pretty shady to me. I re-watched the fight and my hands were slipping right off. Even when I was trying to grab armbars during the fight my arms kept slipping down. She’s a cheater, but it doesn’t really surprise me. In my opinion, she’s been a pretty dirty fighter throughout, so it is what it is.”
Esparza was confident she did enough during the fight to get the decision over Gadelha and feels she would have been in a better position if the Brazilian didn’t have the advantage of being greased.
“I felt that I won anyway. I felt that things could’ve even been more dominant on my side had [she not greased]. Claudia, you’re a cheater, straight up. It’s not cool. It is what it is, but it’s done with.”
“Fighting a wrestler I can see why someone would do something like that,” she continued. “I’ve been working on a pretty solid armbar and I felt like I had it setup a couple of times in the fight higher on the arm, but every time my arm just slipped down.”
Esparza regrets not informing the referee as soon she felt something was off with Gadelha and admitted her corner only found out about the accusation after the fight.
“At the end of the second round, I was going to say something to the ref, but I didn’t and I kind of regret that. I don’t know how I would’ve gone about that. I’ve never been in that situation before.
“I do [regret not telling the referee]. I don’t know if it would’ve made a difference. Maybe they could’ve towelled her off, but I really don’t know. I’ve heard of people doing this over the years. But I never actually experienced it before.”