Earlier this week, UFC women’s strawweight contender Carla Esparza accused Claudia Gadelha of greasing in their UFC 225 preliminary fight at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
“She cheated in the fight; she greased before the fight. I was considering saying something to the referee in between [rounds]. I was going to say, ‘She’s greasing! She’s greasing’, but I didn’t really know how to go about it,” Esparza told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
It didn’t take long for Gadelha, who edged out a split decision over Esparza, to respond to the accusations, telling MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz that ‘Cookie Monster’ is ‘trying to find excuses’ for losing on Saturday.
”I think Carla is trying to find excuses for what happened,” Gadelha said. “I badly injured my knee, everyone at the UFC (Performance) Institute knows that because I was treated by the institute’s physiotherapist. (The physiotherapist) was the only reason I didn’t pull out of the fight. She said ‘I’ll take care of you.’ I kept visiting the physiotherapist during fight week to be able to fight. I felt the knee in the first round, could barely stand, and still beat Carla in her game, wrestling, so I think she’s just mad she couldn’t outwrestle me. She was supposed to be a high-level wrestler and that’s how she lost to me.”
Gadelha says all fighters were rigorously checked by the Illinois athletic commission before stepping into the Octagon, ruling out any possibility of greasing or cheating.
”There’s an athletic commission with officials following you the moment you enter the arena up until the point you enter the Octagon, including inside the Octagon, checking if there’s something on your body,” she continued. “Come on, we’re in 2018, this greasing story is from Vale Tudo days, don’t know how many years ago. At this level, today, I don’t think it happens anymore.
”And by the way, my strategy was to grapple her. I’m a grappler. Why would I put something on my body to not be able to grapple? I was talking to my coach now, we have a list of things written on a paper, notes of things we planned doing in the fight, and grappling was the biggest part of my strategy. Why would I put something on my body? That makes no sense.”
Esparza, 30, said she wouldn’t have accused Gadelha of cheating if she wasn’t ‘100 percent sure’, and called for a rematch with the Brazilian on social media.
Hey @ClaudiaGadelha_ i was never scared before and I’m certainly not scared now... rematch?@danawhite @Mickmaynard2 pic.twitter.com/vefgdG4K9P— Carla Esparza (@CarlaEsparza1) June 11, 2018
And just for the record, I would NEVER publicly accuse someone of anything unless I was 100% sure.— Carla Esparza (@CarlaEsparza1) June 11, 2018
Gadelha, a former UFC strawweight title challenger, isn’t sure when she’ll be fit to return but is open to the possibility of a rematch with Esparza.
”If Carla wants a rematch, I don’t see any problem with that,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll dominate her even more because I dominated most of the fight with only one leg.”
”I think Carla is mad at me because this fight was supposed to happen for years, so she brought her best version. Her best version and me with one leg, I still won, so let her talk whatever she wants. If a rematch has to happen, I’m here.”
Gadelha, 29, gets the MRI results for her injured knee later today, so expect the No. 3 ranked strawweight contender to give a timetable for her return to the UFC shortly after.