Rose Namajunas will try to become the UFC’s second female champion. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
The UFC’s first-ever women’s strawweight champion will be crowned at “The Ultimate Fighter 20” finale on Friday when Carla Esparza squares off with Rose Namajunas.
The matchup became official following the final episode of “TUF 20,” which saw Esparza take a unanimous verdict over Jessica Penne and Namajunas submit Randa Markos in the reality show’s semifinals.
The “TUF 20” finale takes place at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and also includes a featherweight showdown pitting Jeremy Stephens against Charles Oliveira. The 11-bout card is highlighted by eight 115-pound pairings, including a bout between semifinal losers Penne and Markos.
The inaugural Invicta Fighting Championships strawweight titlist, Esparza is 9-2 in sanctioned bouts, including triumphs over “TUF” castmates Felice Herrig and Bec Rawlings. In addition to her victory over Penne, the 27-year-old “Cookie Monster” also bested Angela Hill and Tecia Torres during her stint on the program.
Namajunas was arguably “TUF’s” breakout star, submitting all three of her opponents -- Markos, Alex Chambers and Joanne Calderwood -- on the reality show. “Thug” has competed exclusively for Invicta as a pro, submitting Emily Kagan and Kathina Catron before dropping a unanimous verdict to Torres in her most recent outing at Invicta FC 6.