The UFC’s first ever 115-pound champion mauled Yan Xiaonan from the first second of the fight until she earned a stoppage in the second round after Esparza was just blasting away with elbows from the crucifix position until referee Keith Peterson could no longer allow the fight to continue. The end came at just 2:58 in the second round as Esparza picked up her fifth win in a row overall to put herself back into position to fight for the title.
“I am so stoked,” Esparza said after earning the TKO victory. “I’ve been working so hard on my wrestling this camp. I’ve been working to secure those finishes. It’s a lot easier to fight someone who wants to fight.
“I want a chance to fight for that title. I think that’s a fight everyone wants to see. Come on, Dana [White] let’s make it happen.”
As soon as the fight started, Yan rushed forward with aggression and that resulted in Esparza ducking down to latch onto the double leg takedown. While Yan tried to scramble free, Esparza was relentless until she secured top position as she started to advance while also throwing knees to the body on the ground.
Esparza continued to pepper away at Yan with strikes on the ground and ensuring that she was going to stay on top no matter what. Late in the round, Esparza started looking for submissions and then opened up a nasty cut on Yan’s head after bludgeoning her with a sharp elbow just before the horn sounded.
Esparza’s dominance continued into the second round as she planted Yan on the ground again after spending less than a minute on her feet. Quickly shredding Yan’s defense, Esparza trapped the arms and began blasting away with punches and elbows while locking up the crucifix position.
When it was clear Yan had no chance to escape and she was just absorbing more and more damage to the face, the referee had no choice but to rescue her and stop the fight.
The win puts Esparza on the precipice of a title fight opportunity after she became the inaugural strawweight champion with a win over Rose Namajunas back in 2014. Now with Namajunas reigning as a two-time champion in her own right, Esparza will look to do the same in a rematch.