Two of the very best women’s strawweight fighters in the world will collide at UFC 225 on June 9 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois, when former UFC champion Carla Esparza takes on former title challenger Claudia Gadelha.
Despite Esparza riding a two-fight win streak (the longest of her UFC career) and Gadelha coming off a disappointing unanimous decision loss to Jessica Andrade this past September, the 115-pound matchup is a pairing that needed to happen. And unbeknownst to many, it’s a clash of personalities that had created significant bad blood even prior to this booking.
“I’m so excited. This is actually the third time this fight was supposed to happen so it’s been a long time coming,” Esparza told MMAJunkie Radio earlier this week. “I’m just excited it’s going to happen. She’s always been like a big trash talker and we’ve had our Twitter wars which came from nothing back in the day. Up until recently, she’s either talked shit about me and stuff on her Instagram, like calling me names and all these things about me.”
Much of the hostility between the two fighters stems from a social media exchange in 2016 after Esparza reportedly turned down a fight with Gadelha. The two bickered about weight cuts and missed opportunities to fight one another in the past, so this meeting at UFC 225 is long overdue.
“Even just last year, out of nowhere, talking crap about me and then right now I think she called me a dumbass and another post where she called me a little girl,” said Esparza. “It’s just her trash talking, I didn’t say anything about her I was ‘Yay, this fight is finally going to happen,’ and she was just like this, this and this, ‘see you in Chicago, you can’t run anymore dumbass.’ So I’m just like alright. You know, if we didn’t have USADA in the picture, I’d call roid rage.”
Esparza, 30, has never fully regained her divisional footing after losing her title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk via TKO back in 2015. A win over Gadelha this June will help propel her closer to her second UFC title shot.
As for Gadelha, who has teased a potential move up to the UFC’s newly-minted flyweight division, a victory over a former champion like Esparza puts her right back in the driver’s seat at 115 pounds, especially after Jedrzejczyk’s title loss to Rosa Namajunas this past November.
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