Esparza insisted that Gadelha greased before the fight and now regrets not informing a referee.
“She cheated in the fight; she greased before the fight,” Esparza told Ariel Helwani on the latest episode of The MMA Hour. “I was considering saying something to the referee in between [rounds]. I was going to say, ‘She’s greasing! She’s greasing’, but I didn’t really know how to go about it.”
Watching the fight has only made Esparza more confident of her accusation.
“It’s pretty shady to me. I re-watched the fight and my hands were slipping right off. Even when I was trying to grab armbars during the fight my arms kept slipping down. She’s a cheater, but it doesn’t really surprise me. In my opinion, she’s been a pretty dirty fighter throughout, so it is what it is.”
Esparza thinks she got the better of Gadelha over the three rounds, but thinks she would have been more dominant if the Brazilian hadn’t cheated, as she alleges.
“I felt that I won anyway. I felt that things could’ve even been more dominant on my side had [she not greased]. Claudia, you’re a cheater, straight up. It’s not cool. It is what it is, but it’s done with.”
“Fighting a wrestler I can see why someone would do something like that,” she continued. “I’ve been working on a pretty solid armbar and I felt like I had it setup a couple of times in the fight higher on the arm, but every time my arm just slipped down.”
Esparza remembered being on the verge of complaining to a referee at one point during the fight. She also didn’t inform her corner of the situation until after the bout.
“At the end of the second round, I was going to say something to the ref, but I didn’t and I kind of regret that. I don’t know how I would’ve gone about that. I’ve never been in that situation before.
“I do [regret not telling the referee]. I don’t know if it would’ve made a difference. Maybe they could’ve toweled her off, but I really don’t know. I’ve heard of people doing this over the years. But I never actually experienced it before.”