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Carla Esparza wins UFC women's strawweight title

Season 20, women's strawweight: In the first

Season 20, women's strawweight: In the first "TUF" season to feature all female fighters, Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas in the final to win the season and be crowned the UFC's inaugural champion of the new 115-pound division. Photo Credit: Invicta FC

LAS VEGAS - Carla Esparza won the first women's strawweight title fight Friday night in the UFC-based "The Ultimate Fighter" reality television show's 20th season finale.

Esparza had a submission victory over Rose Namajunas in the third round.

"This is the most amazing feeling I've had in my life," Esparza said. "I had a lot of expectations on me. I didn't know if I could do it, but I proved myself."

Esparza largely controlled the first two rounds with her wrestling skills, taking down Namajunas multiple times and almost forcing the referee to stop the fight at the end of the second round.

"Rose is such a phenomenal athlete, but in the end I think my wrestling got me the win," Esparza said.

In the third, Esparza (11-2) took down Namajunas (3-2) early, softened her up with ground strikes and secured a rear-naked choke to force her to tap at 1:26.

"I always respected her. I give her all the props in the world," Namajunas said. "I'm gonna have to tweak a few things, I'll be back."

On the undercard, lightweight Charles Oliveira (19-4-1) controlled the first two rounds with multiple submission attempts and earned a unanimous decision victory over Jeremy Stephens.

"He said I was nothing, but I came in here and struck with him," Oliveira said through an interpreter. "I'm staying in this weight class and I'm going to be the champion."

Stephens (23-11) was in deep trouble throughout the first 6 minutes of the fight, spending most of his energy defending submissions.

The fight between Daron Cruickshank and K.J. Noons was declared a no contest when Cruickshank was poked in the eye in the second round, rendering him unable to continue. UFC President Dana White indicated after the fight that Cruickshank would need surgery to repair the damage.

Lightweight Yancy Medeiros beat Joe Proctor by guillotine choke in the first round, and Jessica Penne notched her first UFC victory with a decision victory over Randa Markos.

Felice Herrig, Heather Jo Clark, Joanne Calderwood, Tecia Torres, Aisling Daly and Angela Hill also earned victories on the undercard.


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