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Claudia Gadelha responds to Carla Esparza’s greasing accusations: ‘Excuses’

Claudia Gadelha defeated Carla Esparza via split decision at UFC 225.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Carla Esparza accused Claudia Gadelha of greasing before their UFC 225 fight, and Gadelha’s first reaction was to laugh — and call it “excuses.”

Gadelha defeated her longtime rival via split decision last Saturday in Chicago and Esparza, a former UFC and Invicta FC strawweight champion, went on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour to accuse the Brazilian of cheating.

“She cheated in the fight; she greased before the fight,” Esparza said. “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. … 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.”

Speaking with MMA Fighting on Tuesday, Gadelha responded to the allegations.

”I think Carla is trying to find excuses for what happened,” Gadelha said. “I badly injured my knee, everyone at the UFC (Performance) Institute knows that because I was treated by the institute’s physiotherapist. (The physiotherapist) was the only reason I didn’t pull out of the fight. She said ‘I’ll take care of you.’ I kept visiting the physiotherapist during fight week to be able to fight. I felt the knee in the first round, could barely stand, and still beat Carla in her game, wrestling, so I think she’s just mad she couldn’t outwrestle me. She was supposed to be a high-level wrestler and that’s how she lost to me.

”There’s an athletic commission with officials following you the moment you enter the arena up until the point you enter the Octagon, including inside the Octagon, checking if there’s something on your body. Come on, we’re in 2018, this greasing story is from Vale Tudo days, don’t know how many years ago. At this level, today, I don’t think it happens anymore.

”And by the way, my strategy was to grapple her. I’m a grappler. Why would I put something on my body to not be able to grapple? I was talking to my coach now, we have a list of things written on a paper, notes of things we planned doing in the fight, and grappling was the biggest part of my strategy. Why would I put something on my body? That makes no sense.”

Esparza doubled down on the accusations on her social media, saying she thought she should have won the contest and asking for a rematch.

The Brazilian visited the doctor on Monday to get her knee checked. The MRI result comes back Wednesday, and it will determine how long she will have to stay out of action — and whether or not she will have to undergo knee surgery.

”If Carla wants a rematch, I don’t see any problem with that,” Gadelha said. “I’m sure I’ll dominate her even more because I dominated most of the fight with only one leg.”

”I think Carla is mad at me because this fight was supposed to happen for years, so she brought her best version,” she continued. “Her best version and me with one leg, I still won, so let her talk whatever she wants. If a rematch has to happen, I’m here.”

Gadelha is confident she was the better fighter that night in Chicago, but isn’t happy with her performance.

”I don’t think my performance guarantees me a title shot, and I don’t want that,” Gadelha said. “I don’t think I performed well. I’m not happy with my performance. I gave all I could in there, but I really fight with only one leg. My knee is bad, I injured my thigh and my LCL and still fought, but I’m sure that if I were 100 percent the fight would had been different.”

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