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Claudia Gadelha apologizes to Cortney Casey, but says illegal kick didn’t land

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Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Claudia Gadelha returned to the win column with a unanimous decision victory over Cortney Casey at UFC Fight Night 100, but it didn’t come without controversy.

The Brazilian strawweight dominated the action against Casey, but threw an illegal kick to a downed opponent in the third round. Casey complained, but the referee didn’t deduct a point. Gadelha apologized to her opponent at the post-fight press conference, but says that the kick didn’t actually land on Casey’s head.

"I don’t think the kick landed," Gadelha said. "I was expecting her to get up. She pretended she was going to get up but she sat back down, so I threw the kick anyway. That’s why I said sorry."

Gadelha did not call out any opponent inside the Octagon, but did it at the post-fight press conference: Carla Esparza, a former UFC champion who was scheduled to face the Brazilian talent a few times in the past, is who she wants next.

"I really want to fight Carla. She’s a former champion in the UFC," Gadelha said. "I’ll fight anyone in the division. I tell the UFC all the time. If they give me Carla now, and I beat her, I’m down to fighting for the title again. It only depends on the UFC. But I really want to fight for the belt."

Holding a 14-2 record with both of her losses coming against current UFC champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Gadelha knows that earning another title shot would be tough with the Polish star as champion.

"The easiest path would be (Joanna) losing and me fighting someone else," Gadelha said, "but I think it’s hard for someone to beat Joanna today. She’s the most dominant athlete in the division."