An explosive battle pitting former UFC strawweight champ Carla "Cookie Monster" Esparza (12-4) against surging contender Cynthia Calvillo (6-0) has been added to the UFC 219 fight card, the promotion announced. The 30-year-old Esparza, who has won two of her past three since losing the 115-pound belt at UFC 185, looks to climb back into title contention against a highly-decorated, undefeated submission artist.
Calvillo, 30, trains out of Team Alpha Male in California -- one of the top combat sports facilities in the world. Training under the tutelage of Urijah Faber, Calvillo has emerged as one of the best, must-see rising stars in the UFC since her promotional debut earlier this year. 2017 has been an incredible year for the California talent, as she won all three fights she competed in.
Calvillo kicked off the year by finishing Amanda Cooper and Pearl Gonzalez, before scoring a decision win over Joanne Calderwood. She's looking to wrap up 2017 with another "W" in the win column, as she hopes to keep her unblemished resume intact. The thing is, Esparza is going to be an extremely tough out.
Both of these warriors have high-level takedown skills and elite grappling, but "Cookie Monster" is a former UFC champion with world-class wrestling. Esparza and Calvillo are both ranked in the top 10 at strawweight, so the winner will emerge as a legit title contender for 2018. On the other side of the coin, the loser will take a major step back in the division.
With so much riding on this fight, these ladies are going to be very respectful of each other's wrestling skills. It may very well become a stand-up striking war.
If that should happen, it'll be interesting to see just how far Esparza's striking game has come since her title defeat to Joanna "Champion." Tickets to UFC 219 can be picked up right here on AXS.