The week before Jessica Aguilar announced her split from World Series of Fighting, former UFC champion Carla Esparza gave Aguilar a mighty compelling reason to seek free agency. Largely unprovoked, Esparza proclaimed on The MMA Hour that she knew "for a fact" Aguilar used performance enhancing drugs and that a friend of Esparza's "personally gave [Aguilar] shots in her butt."
When it comes to professional sports, accusations of doping are about as serious as any an athlete could make. So not surprisingly, Aguilar bristled at Esparza's claims when asked during her own appearance on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour.
"I don't have time for that," Aguilar said. "Ain't nobody have time for that. But you know, she can say whatever she wants.
"My record speaks for itself. And when I say record, I mean my athletic commission record of nothing. There's nothing but clean results. The message to Carla is: be real. Sorry you keep losing to better fighters. How about congratulating somebody? Doing something good? Saying something good about them, versus making excuses and making up negative stories about others? It's just crazy."
Esparza and Aguilar have a long-standing feud stemming back from their 2011 Bellator fight, which Aguilar won via split decision. That victory was just part of the 10-fight win streak which Aguilar currently rides, while Esparza went on to capture UFC gold with a dominant run on The Ultimate Fighter 20. The two concurrent streaks led Esparza and Aguilar to trade shots about who was the world's true No. 1 strawweight prior to Esparza's loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185.
Esparza continued her critique of Aguilar's tenure as WSOF champion last week, asking of Aguilar, "How can you even call yourself No. 1 if you fight people who aren't even ranked, who don't give you a real challenge?", before doubling down on her belief that Aguilar was involved in PED use.
"Oh my gosh. I mean, how many excuses (do you have)?" Aguilar shot back Monday. "Carla has probably taken so many hits to the head, you know, that the only logical explanation is [to make excuses].
"For me, if it's not true, why put so much into it? There's other bigger things that I have on my mind. But then, you know, while I sit on it, other people are like, ‘well that's not fair, what she's saying is not even cool.' Like you said, it's something serious. But again, my record is clean, there's nothing but clean results on my end, and all I can tell my fans is that it's not true. They believe and that's it, we move forward. I have nothing respect for the sport and I want to do nothing but be good for the sport.
"So whatever she wants to do, whatever she wants to say," Aguilar added. "Soon, you know, she'll have hopefully the opportunity to put her money where her mouth is. So we'll see how that goes."
Aguilar is right that both women could very well have an opportunity to settle their differences soon. Aguilar requested and received official release from her WSOF contract on Monday, and in her first interview as a free agent, she made it clear that her aim is absolute: to sign with the UFC and prove she's truly the best in the world.
If Zuffa matchmakers take her up on that challenge, Aguilar's path to the UFC title could lead directly through her rival, as Esparza remains the UFC's No. 1 ranked strawweight underneath Jedrzejczyk. Although if Aguilar is presented with the option of an immediate title shot -- which she feels she "absolutely" deserves for her standing in the division -- then Aguilar wouldn't hesitate to make Esparza work for the grudge match.
"My goal is to become the UFC champion. That's my goal," she said. "So if they give me whatever, I'm not sure what's going to happen, how it's going to play out, but my goal is to become the champion. The UFC champion. If they give me a fight before that, and it's Carla Esparza, it would be my pleasure. It'll probably be the happiest day of my life."