Carla Esparza Bio: Early Life, Career, Records & Net Worth

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Do you know the name of the first-ever Strawweight Champion in both Invicta FC and the UFC? Well, if you don’t, then there’s no need to worry as I have got you covered. Carla Esparza is the inaugural strawweight champion of both the organizations mentioned above.

Furthermore, Carla is one of the best fighters in UFC’s strawweight division due to her outstanding wrestling and cardio. Also, Esparza is a submission specialist, as suggested by her many submission wins.

Carla Esparza
Carla Esparza

At the time of writing, the 32-year-old will face Michelle Waterson on 11 April 2020. So, don’t forget to mark the date on your calendar.

But that is in the future, and we are not here to discuss the future. Instead, I will guide you through the life of Esparza along with the highs and lows of her incredible career.

You will also find information regarding Carla’s record, net worth, fight purse, family, body measurements, and social media accounts.

But before we get onto the serious stuff, let’s take a look at the quick facts.

Quick Facts

Full Name Carla Kristen Esparza
Birth Date 10 October 1987
Birth Place Torrance, California, U.S.A
Nick Name Cookie Monster
Religion Not available
Nationality American
Ethnicity Latin
Education Menlo College
Horoscope Libra
Father’s Name Not available
Mother’s Name Not available
Siblings Not available
Age 36 Years Old
Height 5’1″ (1.55 m)
Weight 52 kg (115 lb)
Zodiac Sign Libra
Hair Color Black
Eye Color Black
Net Worth $500,000
Division Strawweight
Married No
Spouse No
Children No
Profession Mixed Martial Arts
Reach 63 inch (160 cm)
Style Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Team Team Oyama
Fighting out of Redondo Beach, California
MMA Record 17 wins and 6 losses 
Social Media Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
Merch Autographed Products, Gloves, Shorts
Last Update May, 2024

Carla Esparza: Career

The former UFC Strawweight Champion’s interest in MMA began when she started wrestling at Redondo Union High School as a varsity athlete.

After winning several national and local championships, Menlo College awarded Esparza a scholarship to wrestle under two-time Olympian Lee Allen.

Following her high school team’s impressive performances, Carla was declared an All-American in women’s wrestling for 2008 and 2009.

After that, the California-born fighter started to increase her MMA repertoire when she began training at Team Oyama, the same team Esparza is in currently.

Subsequently, the Cookie Monster won her first six MMA fights, with three of those wins coming via submission. As a result, Carla gained a reputation for being a submission artist very early in her career.

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In a stroke of luck, Bellator signed the then 22-year-old as a last-minute replacement for Angela Magana due to Magana’s injury.

However, Carla’s success was short-lived as she had to face the then no.1 pound-for-pound female MMA fighter globally, Megumi Fujii.

Also, Fujii was undefeated at the time, which made young Esparza’s task even more difficult.

Esparza vs Fujii
Fujii locks Esparza in an armbar

As everyone expected, the Cookie Monster lost the bout via an armbar in the second round. Nevertheless, young Carla had gained valuable experience, which would help her in the latter part of her career.

However, it was there for all to see that Esparza still needed some time to develop as an MMA fighter. Consequently, the California-born fighter moved to the XFC, where she defeated Felice Herrig via a unanimous decision.

After that, Carla was supposed to fight Angela Magana for the MEZ Sports’ Women’s Flyweight Championship.

Unfortunately, on the day of the fight, the Magana got involved in a car accident en route to the venue. As a result, Angela broke her back and was deemed unfit to compete at the event.

Esparza vs Magana
Esparza and Magana at the weigh-ins

Nevertheless, Esparza knew that an opportunity would arise in the future, given her talent and potential.

And that is precisely what happened as news broke out that the California native had signed for a new all-female MMA organization, Invicta FC.

It is at Invicta where Carla received all her recognition and fame before eventually moving to the UFC.

Returning to the subject, the future UFC Strawweight Champion lived up to the expectations as she managed to win the first two fights with Invicta in a convincing fashion.

For example, Esparza won both her contests via TKO, with none exceeding the match’s second round.

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Consequently, everyone expected the California-born fighter to fight for the Invicta Strawweight Championship. And that is precisely what happened as Esparza faced Bec Hyatt for the Strawweight Championship.

The bout was very much one-sided as the Cookie Monster won via unanimous decision to become the inaugural Invicta FC Strawweight Champion.

Invicta FC 4
Esparza wins the inaugural Invicta FC Strawweight Championship.

Finally, the strawweight fighter realized her dream of becoming a world champion in a major MMA organization. On the contrary, Carla did not compete again at Invicta FC due to various circumstances.

Subsequently, the Cookie Monster decided to vacate the title to compete in the Ultimate Fighter Tournament of the UFC.

Up until that moment, Esparza was known only inside the MMA world for her outstanding cardio and wrestling abilities. However, upon signing with the UFC, it all changed as Carla made herself known to the whole world with UFC’s popularity.

To the surprise of nobody, the California native emerged as the tournament winner, which propelled her to a Championship match against Rose Namajunas.

Subsequently, Esparza dominated much of the Championship fight until Namajunas tapped in the third round due to a rear-naked choke.

Esparza vs Namajunas
Esparza with the UFC Strawweight Championship

In doing so, just as she had done in Invicta FC, Carla became the first-ever UFC Strawweight Champion.

In addition to winning the championship, the Cookie Monster’s day got even better as UFC awarded the Champion with a Performance of the Night bonus.

Sadly, her championship reign lasted just mere months as Joanna Jedrzeczyk, one of the best strikers in the Strawweight division, defeated Esparza via TKO in the second round. Soon after the fight, Carla stated,

“She had great takedown defense, obviously. I feel like I wasn’t really set it up, but that’s on me. there are never any excuses. I fought my fight and I lost tonight She did a great job.”

Nonetheless, having the heart of a lion, Esparza bounced back and won her next contest against Juliana Lima via unanimous decision.

After that, the California-born fighter fought in two matches, of which one resulted in defeat while the other was a win.

Carla Esparza vs Cynthia Calvillo

Following her impressive victory against Maryna Moroz, UFC booked Carla to fight then-undefeated fighter and strawweight prospect Cynthia Calvillo.

In a display of her never say die attitude, the Cookie Monster bounced back from the first-round setback by turning things around in the next two rounds.

Consequently, the California native won the fight via unanimous decision, which got her in contention to vie for the Strawweight Championship.

The joy was short-lived as Carla lost her next two fights against strawweight title contenders, Claudia Gadelha and Tatiana Suarez.

Carla Esparza vs Alexa Grasso

At that exact moment, Esparza felt that her opportunity to win the UFC Strawweight Championship had gone from the grasp of her hands.

Nevertheless, just like several times before, Carla bounced back and won her next two bouts against Virna Jandiroba and Alexa Grasso.

However, the fight with Alexa was not without controversy as many observers and fighters alike thought that Grasso was the deserving winner.

Also, it seemed like Esparza had tapped following an armbar, but the 32-year-old bounced back and won the fight with a broken arm.

Consequently, Carla earned the Fight of the Night bonus award for her unbelievable performance.

On the contrary, the fight was not without consequences as the Cookie Monster needed to go to the hospital due to injuries suffered during the fight.

Nevertheless, the lion-hearted strawweight has successfully recovered from her injuries. Furthermore, the California-born fighter will face Michelle Waterson at UFC Fight Night 172 on 11 April 2020.

So, don’t forget to watch the bout as you might miss another classic fight, just like the one Esparza had with Grasso.

In conclusion, I am fully in support of Esparza for the bout; however, I know that not all my viewers agree with me. Therefore, don’t forget to comment down below on who you think is going to win.

Career Achievements

UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship

Fight of the Night (vs. Alexa Grasso)

Performance of the Night

The Ultimate Fighter 20 Tournament Winner

Invicta FC

Invicta FC Strawweight Championship

Combat Press

Female Fighter of the Year 2014

MMA Weekly

Female Fighter of the Year 2014

How old is Carla Esparza? Height & Weight

At the time of writing, the Cookie Monster is 32 years old, but she has shown no signs of slowing down. Instead, Esparza has picked up her game even more as she has won her last two fights against adamant opposition.

How tall is Carla Esparza?

The strawweight beauty stands at 5 feet 1 inch, making her extremely agile due to her low center of gravity.

Besides, Carla weighs 115 pounds, which is the maximum limit for a strawweight fighter in the UFC. Furthermore, Esparza is one of the most durable fighters in the UFC due to her incredible cardio.

Carla Esparza, Body
Esparza at the weigh-ins

The 32-year-old is one of the most talented fighters in the UFC’s strawweight division, as suggested by her record of 15 wins and six losses.

Furthermore, Esparza became the first-ever UFC Strawweight Champion back in 2014 when she beat Rose Namajunas via a rear-naked choke.

Carla Esparza: Net Worth & Fight Purse

Carla has amassed a net worth of $500,000, mainly through her MMA activities. According to reports, Esparza was the highest earner at her most recent fight at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Stephens, which can only bode well for the strawweight fighter in the future.

In particular, the California native earned $157,000 in total during the event, which included $51,000 to show, a $51,000 win bonus, a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus, and a $5,000 fight week incentive pay.

Furthermore, the main eventers Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez, earned $87,000 and $59,000, respectively.

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Above all, this highlights that women in the UFC are finally getting paid at the same level as their male counterparts.

It has been an ongoing problem for several years, but now it seems that the barrier has finally been broken.

Contrarily, because women fighters earned a lot less in the past, Carla’s net worth is comparatively low. However, judging by the equality in pay recently, I do not doubt that Esparza’s net worth will increase rapidly.

Carla Esparza: Family & Marriage

The former UFC Strawweight Champion was born in 1987 in Torrance, California, and is the only child of her parents.

However, the details of her parents remain unknown. Contrarily, what we know is that Carla’s mother is from Ecuador, and her father is from the U.S, originally of English descent.

Who is Carla Esparza married to?

Luckily for all the bachelors out there, Esparza is yet to be married. On the contrary, Carla was involved in a relationship with a former baseball player, Jon Snow. Specifically, the couple started dating in early 2014.

Furthermore, the two lovebirds were ecstatic about their relationship as they used to go on hunting, shooting, and hiking trips together.

However, their love did not last long as the duo got separated in early 2015 due to unspecified reasons.

Since then, the California-born fighter has not been involved in any relationships. At least, Carla is portraying as she has decided to keep her love life private after splitting from Jon.

Nevertheless, the 32-year-old still had a little bit of humor left in her even though she went through a bad breakup. For example, on 1 April 2017, Carla surprised everyone by announcing that she got engaged.

But later, the Cookie Monster confirmed that she was playing a prank on her fans on the occasion of April Fool’s day.

Social Media Presence

Instagram: 147k followers

Twitter: 104k followers

Facebook: 356k followers

Carla Esparza: FAQs 

What is Carla Esparza’s mixed martial arts stats?

To date, Carla Esparza has fought 23 games in total. Among those fights, she has garnered 17 wins and 6 losses.

Furthermore, her wins depict three by knockout, four by submission, and ten by decision. Likewise, her losses are two by knockout, one by submission, and three by decision. 

Aaditya Bhatta
Aaditya Bhatta

Aaditya Bhatta

Aaditya Bhatta is a dynamic writer and sports enthusiast, whose passion for both realms is reflected in his work. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for storytelling, Aaditya brings a unique perspective to his writing, captivating readers with his engaging content.


Sports Analysis Content Creation


  • Aaditya has consistently delivered insightful analysis and captivating content across various platforms.
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Aaditya's journey as a writer and sports aficionado began at a young age when he discovered his passion for both pursuits. Throughout his academic and professional endeavors, Aaditya has honed his skills in content creation and sports analysis, immersing himself in the intricacies of the games he loves.

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