Sunday, December 16, 2012

Carla Esparza Interview

Photo credit: Esther Lin

Coming off an impressive three fight win streak, Carla Esparza gets her first title shot when she takes on Claudia Gadelha for Invicta on January 5th. Since her loss to Jessica Aguilar- fight many felt she won-, Esparza has show improvement with each fight and a win over Gadelha for the title would cement her placing among the sports elite.

Q: Looking back at your last fight, you beat Lynn Alvarez, how satisfied were you with your performance?
A: I was really happy with that performance. Anytime you get a fast finish I don't think there is really any complaining.

Q: Did you feel going in that you had to not only win but win impressive to deserve the title shot?
A: Yeah, I think it was kind of in the works, but I think that win definitely solidified it.

Q: Since you beat her, you and Felice Herrig have been training together a lot and have both looked better, how have you two helped each other?
A: We are pretty much both higher level fighters. Felice brings a lot to the table with her striking and she has a really flexible guard. We compliment each other. She has strong cage wrestling and I have a lot of ground and pound and wrestling. We compliment each other and when we spar hard it is really competitive. That is how you get better cause that is like a real life situation, sparring in the same weight class, top girls, you expose your faults and when a coach helps clean it up, it really helps.

Q: She fought last week, does it help when you both have fights coming up so close together?
A: Definitely! I came in at the beginning of her camp. I didn't know Invicta was coming this fast, I was expecting February, but it is great I got to have this to start my own camp and give me a perspective of what I need to work on.

Q: What would this title mean to you?
A: It would mean everything. I have never had a title. To be a title holder for Invicta, the top promotion for women, is the best you can have. I feel honored to fight in the first strawweight championship fight.

Q: You are fighting Claudia Gadelha, how do you feel you match up with her?
A: I feel I match up well. We are both finishers. I think we both come out strong. It will be who wants it more and imposes their will first. She has a similar style to mine. She likes the top game. Unfortunately there is not too much footage of her, I know her Jiu-Jitsu is really good. My wrestling really negates a lot of that. We will see how we match up on the ground, I am sure it will end up there eventually.

Q: Is it hard to game-plan when you don't see a lot of footage?
A: It is a little hard, but we know she likes to come out strong because there is so little footage. I'm expecting her to want to finish me in the first round, that is her pattern. I will be ready for five rounds and get my endurance up but I am expecting a tough first round.

Q: Is there a past opponent you would compare her to?
A: My coaches have said she is similar to Jessica Aguilar. She is a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and won plenty of world titles in Jiu-Jitsu. As far as Jiu-Jitsu status I would say Megumi Fuji. Their style isn't to similar but as far as the level of Jiu-Jitsu.

Q: With her fighting in Brazil, could coming to another country have a negative affect on her?
A: There is always the jet-lag and traveling can be stressful, so it could play a factor. She traveled to Canada and won her fight. She is coming to fight so travel or not, she will be ready.

Q: Knowing she is gonna be looking for the submission do you do extra work on submission defense?
A: Yes, I always try and specify my camps when I have the time to. I have been doing a lot of submission defense and working off my back. I am ready for anything she brings.

Q: Her fights seem to always end in the first, you do have some experience going later, if it goes into the alter rounds, does that give you an experience edge?
A: Definitely! Just that experience of having to push yourself, it is adversity and I don't think she has had to deal with that, she has two decisions in her career. I plan to push her. This is a five round fight, if it goes five rounds I have the advantage.

Q: So if it does go to the fourth or fifth, I assume you are comfortable you have the cardio for that?
A: Yeah, my cardio feels really good right now. I don't care how great of shape you are, you go five rounds you are gonna get tired, but I feel good that if I have to go five rounds, I can do it.

Q: Does this being for a title in the top company for women's MMA put more pressure on you or can you treat it like another fight?
A: The fact it is a title fight, it isn't just another fight, it means a lot. But being for this or that organization doesn't play much of a difference. Invicta is a great organization and there will be a lot of eyes on this fight, but I feel pretty comfortable.

Q: People who know the sport know you are among the elite but does winning this title put your name out there more to the casual fan?
A: Definitely! This show has been growing bigger and bigger, there isn't a lot of people who follow MMA who haven't heard of Invicta. I expect a good showing and winning this belt will put my name out there a lot more.

Q: Do you have a predicition?
A: I am gonna try and put her way and finish her as soon as I can.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My team, Team Oyama, my sponsors Alienware, Brawl and Maul, Fear the Fighter, Battlewear and Innovative Results.

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