Many would agree that UFC 274’s co-headliner title fight between Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza was a letdown. There was very little activity throughout the entire 25 minutes of action, resulting in Esparza reclaiming the 115-pound belt via split decision.
If you ask “Thug Rose,” the fight should’ve been scored in her favor because she felt she landed more shots and stuck with the game plan. But if you ask other observers like former referee “Big John” McCarthy, the blame falls on Namajunas’ corner for her performance.
“Cornermen need to stop telling their fighters they’re winning the round when you don’t know,” McCarthy said on his Weighing In podcast with co-host Josh Thomson. “If it’s a close round, you gotta say, ‘Hey, no idea whose round that is.’ Or, ‘Hey, we’re gonna have to say we lost that because we don’t know where the judges are gonna go.’
“You can’t sit there and fall in love with what your fighter is doing based upon ‘Damn, they looked good…’ Rose Namajunas looked fantastic in movement, her footwork was beautiful. She was in control of the cage, as far as… she was comfortable and Carla doesn’t have that smooth, fluid style that Rose does, so she looks better.”
For McCarthy, Namajunas is the “better fighter” who should’ve pushed the action, but got the wrong corner advice.
“She’s the better fighter,” McCarthy said of Rose. “But her cornermen were not… and it’s Pat Barry and Trevor, who I love, they were falling in love with, ‘OK, now you have to show everyone, take your time, just be careful.’ And finally, it was, like, ‘Alright, show them you’re the best martial artist out there.’”
After UFC 274, Namajunas dropped to a record of 11-5. Esparza, on the other hand, improved to a record of 19-6.