Carla Esparza’s pivotal women’s strawweight fight with Tatiana Suarez was originally advertised as being part of the UFC 228 pay-per-view main card, but some reshuffling led to the fight headlining the televised portion of the preliminary card. In Esparza’s last fight, a close loss to Claudia Gadelha, she was the second-to-last fight on the UFC 225 prelims.
Speaking to MMA Weekly’s Damon Martin, the former UFC champion considers being the featured prelim a positive.
“I know for a fact that hearing from Mick [Maynard] and Dana [White], the reason they put us on that card is because they’re really excited about our fight and they want a lot of eyes on it,” Esparza said.
“So I can take it as nothing but a compliment.”
The evolution of the UFC over the past several years has included broadcasting every fight on the card (as opposed to the days of “dark matches”), and in the case of this pay-per-view, Esparza will see a higher viewership than had she been on the main card. Fighters also used to clamor for prime televised spots in order to satisfy sponsors who wanted/were willing to pay fighters to promote their brand on-air through walkouts and the fights themselves, but the Reebok uniform policy effectively killed that off.
“I’m happy about it,” Esparza said. “It’s nice that it’s accessible and more people can watch it. I think it’s going to be an exciting fight and I think they want a lot of people to see it because it has the potential to be a really great fight.”
This is no doubt an important fight for Esparza to try and stay within reasonable distance of another title shot, as Suarez is looking to continue her rise to the top with yet another impressive victory. It’s also a showdown between two TUF winners, with Esparza capturing the strawweight title throught TUF 20, and Suarez winning the TUF 23 strawweight tournament less than two years later.
The UFC 228 preliminary card airs on FX — FS1 is airing college football that evening — starting at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on Saturday, September 8th.