Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
In the co-main event of UFC 274, Rose Namajunas put her belt on the line against one-time champion Carla Esparza in a rematch of the first ever UFC strawweight title fight. Unfortunately, what resulted was one of the worst fights in recent memory, with both women refusing to engage for long swaths of the fight, leaving very little for the judges to score and even less for the commentary team to discuss. As a result, Cormier, Joe Rogan, and Jon Anik spent a lot of time lamenting the lack of effort by both women, with Cormier even jokingly suggesting in the fifth round that the UFC book a third fight, to which Rogan replied “You want to see this again?” And Cormier doesn’t regret it.
“Rose and Carla are going to be pissed off at us, because we had to kind of call it like it is,” Cormier said in the post-fight press conference. “No one is above criticism and that fight was to be criticized.”
The fight was undeniably bad. Esparza and Namajunas combined for just 67 significant strikes over five rounds, with each landing at a rate below 30 percent. Fans booed loudly for portions of the fight and even started doing The Wave, in the absence of anything entertaining to watch. Ultimately, that lack of action worked out for Esparza who reclaimed the strawweight title with a split decision victory. Namajunas, of course, strongly disagreed with the result, saying she believed she won the fight but for Cormier, that only drives home the validity of his criticisms.
“Here’s the problem: if you’re Rose Namajunas, you go home and you are really disappointed because you kind of played chance with your championship, because in those first three rounds, I don’t know how anybody judged it,” Cormier said. “I don’t know how any judge — listen, Jon Anik who is literally one of the smartest people I know goes, ‘The very last scoring criteria is octagon control, which no one ever gets to.’ Tonight, that’s the only way they could have judged those first three rounds and given them to Carla.
“It’s just a game of chance I didn’t quite understand how either corner could feel confident in their advice to their athletes. It was a rough one to watch. And I think that first fight, those takedowns, really froze Rose, because on so many occasions, she’s given us tremendous performances.”