The UFC women’s strawweight division has a new title contender.
Tatiana Suarez remained undefeated at UFC 228 on Saturday by dominating former champion Carla Esparza at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. It was a statement win by the 27-year old Californian.
Suarez utilized her superior, Olympic-level wrestling ability to put Esparza on her back and mauled her with punches and elbows. Eight times Suarez took Esparza down during the three-round contest. Esparza’s toughness and no quit attitude was on display but the former titleholder wasn’t able to effectively do anything against Suarez.
Each time Esparza was able work her way back to her feet, Suarez took her down again. The scene played out over and over throughout the bout. Twice Suarez was able to mount Esparza. The second time, it led to the finish of the fight.
Late in the final frame Suarez advanced to the mount position. She postured up and rained down punches and elbows on an already battered Esparza. With 27 seconds left in the fight, the referee stepped in to stop the one-sided mauling.
“I’ve been working for this my whole entire life, so this is something I do for the people,” said Suarez after the biggest win of her career. “I know there are so many people going through life and have a lot of struggles, and I went though struggles just like everybody else.”
Suarez, a thyroid cancer survivor, understands struggles. While preparing for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Suarez suffered a neck injury and later found out that she had a cancerous growth on her thyroid. She underwent successful radiation treatment but her Olympic dreams were dashed. Two years later, she made her mixed martial arts debut.
Following her dismantling of Esparza, Suarez called out champion Rose Namajunas.
“I just dominated Carla Esparza and she beat Rose. With a dominant performance over Carla, let’s just say better put that in my mailbox,” she said.