Two years after adding women to the roster, the UFC had its first women's title change.
"I was training so hard for her," said Jędrzejczyk (9-0), a native of Poland. "No one believed in my grappling. I am in UFC. I am a complete grappler and striker. No one is going to take this belt from me.
Esparza (10-3) comes from a collegiate wrestling background. But the Redondo Beach, Calif., resident found her wrestling stymied, and didn't seem to have a Plan B.
Jędrzejczyk stuffed seven of Esparza's eight takedown attempts in the fight. As she gained confidence, the challenger began to absolutely pick Esparza apart in the standup, using crisp and accurate striking.
Esparza tired and dropped her hands as the fight went on, which only hastened the finish, which came late in the second round.
Esparza, the former Invicta 115-pound champion, became the first UFC strawweight titleholder in December, when she defeated Rose Namajunas in the finals of the TUF tournament. That became the second women's division in the UFC, after bantamweight, a championship Ronda Rousey has held since it was introduced into the company.
For her part, Esparza, who had a five-fight win streak snapped, was a class act in defeat.
"I can't take anything away from her, she was amazing tonight," Esparza said. "I can't make any excuses, it wasn't my night. She fought a great fight and she earned it."