Cynthia Calvillo was looking for a fifth win of 2017 on Saturday night, one that would put a stamp on her rapid ascent up the UFC strawweight division.
But the woman who was UFC champion before Calvillo ever had a pro fight showed on Saturday night that her time as an elite fighter at 115 pounds is far from over.
Carla Esparza shook off a strong first round from Calvillo at UFC 219, then rallied to take the final two rounds. The judges’ scores at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas were 29-28 across the board for a unanimous deicision.
“I am ecstatic,” Esparza (13-4) said after her third win in his past four fights. “I am so happy I worked so hard for this fight. I knew I was going ot have a tough opponent and I’m glad I got the W.”
Calvillo showed off the slick ground game for which she’s earned her reputation in the opening round. She scored a takedown and then worked for submissions from the top and from the side.
In the second, though, Esparza, the first UFC strawweight champ and also a former Invicta champ, picked up the pace with her striking and also succesfully implemented her wrestling base. In the third, Calvillo looked visibily frustrated as Esparza had more pep in her step and landed the harder and more presice shots.
Calvillo suffered her first career loss, as the Team Alpha Male product dropped to 6-1.