Carla Esparza Reacts to Being the Featured Prelim at UFC 228 Rather Than the Main Card

September 3, 2018

Carla Esparza has been the main event plenty of times during her career but she’s never had a problem earning her way to the top of the card either.

The first ever UFC women’s strawweight champion came up from a wrestling background, which means hard work kind of goes along with the territory.

She remembers what it’s like to compete on local cards with maybe a few hundred people in attendance and she’s certainly stood on the biggest stage in the sport while holding onto a UFC title.

This weekend at UFC 228, Esparza will headline the preliminary card against former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Tatiana Suarez in a battle of top 10 strawweights. With Esparza being a former champion and Suarez touted as the next big thing in the division, it would be easy to justify this fight taking a spot on the main card for pay-per-view.

Instead, they will compete in the final fight airing on FX just before the UFC 228 main card starts.

While some fighters voice their opinions in objection over placement on a card, Esparza actually has no problem being the featured prelim for her showdown with Suarez.

“I know for a fact that hearing from Mick [Maynard] and Dana [White], the reason they put us on that card is because they’re really excited about our fight and they want a lot of eyes on it,” Esparza said when speaking to MMAWeekly.

“So I can take it as nothing but a compliment.”

In years past, fighters clamored to be featured on the main card not only because of exposure with a bigger audience but also thanks to sponsors who would pay money to be featured on a t-shirt or hat when the athlete was walking to the cage.

Preliminary fighters don’t typically have their walkout seen on television so it would take away a source of income when sponsors didn’t to pay without as much visibility.

These days with the UFC outfitting policy in place where fighters are paid through Reebok and no longer allowed to wear sponsors, the need for a televised walkout isn’t what it once was.

Add to that, Esparza knows the visibility for her fight against Suarez will reach a lot of viewers considering their bout is going to be on FX rather than competing behind a pay wall to be on the main card.

All of it adds up to Esparza taking pride in her spot as the featured prelim and she hopes to make the most out of it on Saturday night.

“I’m happy about it,” Esparza said. “It’s nice that it’s accessible and more people can watch it. I think it’s going to be an exciting fight and I think they want a lot of people to see it because it has the potential to be a really great fight.

“Cross my fingers, hopefully ‘Fight of the Night’ would be great.”