By Raphael Garcia
The UFC is filled with some of the best fighters in the sport. But while some continue to surge toward the top of their respective divisions, others falter, and struggle to find their way back to relevance. Carla Esparza is one such athlete. Her defeat to Randa Markos at UFC Fight Night 105 could be damaging to her career in the promotion.
Less than two years ago, Esparza was carrying the women’s strawweight title after a strong run on The Ultimate Fighter and a defeat of Rose Namajunas at the TUF 20 Finale . However, she was dispatched in brutal fashion by Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185, and the loss to Markos on Sunday night marks her second defeat in three outings. In addition, the fact that she has only fought three times since her December 2014 title win has severely hampered her ability to earn sufficient income as a professional fighter.
Her UFC Fight Night 105 payout has yet to be disclosed by the athletic commission, but is obviously half of what it would have been if she had emerged victorious. According to MMA Decisions, 19 of 23 media members scored the fight for Esparza. However, the judges were split for Markos, as Hubert Earle and Don Robinson awarded her the decision, and Robert MacAvoy scored the fight for Esparza. Sometimes, in the event of a “robbery” decision, the UFC will at its discretion pay the losing fighter a win bonus, but there is no indication that this option was considered.
Ali Bagautinov and Zack Makovsky. The UFC is making a calculated move to curate and cultivate a roster filled with the most “exciting” athletes available in the sport, and those that don’t fit that mold may soon find themselves on the outside, looking in. Esparza’s grappling-first style of fighting may be effective, but it doesn’t lend itself to creating the most exciting of bouts. So although she may not be on a major losing streak, Esparza is nonetheless in danger of being seen as a less-than-valuable asset to the promotion.
It may be too early to determine whether or not Carla Esparza will remain a member of the UFC roster. Yet it’s still clear that this loss to Randa Markos is a big blow to her career. And with her limited time in the Octagon since joining the promotion, as well as her low paydays in those fights, the damage to her ability to earn a living in that career could be just as significant.