Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza Odds & UFC 274 Prediction: How to Bet the Co-Main Event (May 7)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Rose Namajunas.
- Rose Namajunas will defend her title against Carla Esparza in the co-main event at UFC 274.
- This fight is a rematch of an earlier fight between the two and Namajunas is a strong favorite entering the fight.
- Billy Ward previews the matchup and gives two picks for the co-main event.
Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza Odds
|Over/Under||4.5 (-195 / +155)|
|Venue||Footprint Center, Phoenix|
|Time||Approx. 11:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday and via BetMGM.|
After three consecutive immediate rematches, “Thug” Rose Namajunas now gets an opportunity to avenge a defeat from nearly eight years ago. She’s putting her title on the line against Carla Esparza, who defeated Namajunas for the inaugural UFC Strawweight title in December of 2014.
Esparza went 3-4 in the promotion following her title win, losing the belt in her first defense. However, she’s since snapped off a five fight winning streak, putting her in position for a chance at a second title run.
Namajunas is 6-1 in her last seven bouts, with six of those being contested for a title. Her lone loss came via slam against Jessica Andrade, a slam that apparently fixed a lingering neck injury. She avenged that defeat, and dispatched Weili Zhang in consecutive bouts. Namajunas is now 4-0 in UFC rematches, can she keep that streak alive against Esparza?
We’ll break it all down below, including some suggesting betting angles for the UFC 274 co-main event.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||12:39||13:43|
|Weight (pounds)||115 lbs.||115 lbs.|
|Date of birth||6/29/92||10/10/87|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.01||2.34|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.88||2.75|
|Take Down Avg.||1.78||3.53|
In their first fight, Esparza was able to use her wrestling to her advantage, taking Namajunas down five times on seven attempts en route to a third-round submission victory. She’ll certainly hope to execute a similar game plan this time around, with Namajunas being the superior striker by nearly all metrics.
Esparza absorbs more strikes than she lands, with relatively poor accuracy and defensive marks. More importantly for this bout, she’s failed to record even a single knockdown in her UFC career.
Namajunas started her career as more of a grappler, with her first six professional wins (counting Ultimate Fighter bouts) all coming via submission. However, she’s added impressive technical striking and power to her game in the years since.
Besides having better offensive and defensive striking metrics, she’s shown in knockout wins over Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk that she can finish fights with her striking.
Her submissions also could help her if and when this fight goes to the ground. She’s the better submission grappler in this contest, though Esparza could mitigate that by wrestling her way to superior positions.
Regardless, this will be a fight Esparza certainly wants to bring to the ground. Her height and reach disadvantage make that tricky though, as Namajunas should be able to land from distance before Esparza gets inside for takedown attempts.
Namajunas will be looking to wear Esparza down with strikes, while forcing her to overexert herself looking for takedowns. Esparza’s relatively poor takedown accuracy could be a factor here, as it’s hard to find the energy for multiple attempts per round down the stretch.
Namajunas vs. Esparza Pick
We have some historical trends working against each other for this one. In rematches, the younger fighter (Namajunas) tends to hold an advantage — but so does the fighter who won the first bout (Esparza.) With that said, I’m not sure how much we should be looking at their first fight for clues as to how this one will go.
Namajunas was just 21 years old at the time of that fight, with only three (official) professional fights under her belt. However, Esparza was 26 — much closer to her physical prime — with 11 professional fights under her belt.
In the intervening period, Namajunas has established herself as one of the best female fighters ever, effectively cleaning out the division outside of Esparza. Still just 29, it’s possible we haven’t even seen peak “Thug Rose” yet. Esparza has an impressive recent run, but is likely on the wrong side of her prime.
Namajunas has also taken great strides in her takedown defense and ability to get back to her feet. She defended five of 11 attempts from Zhang in her last fight, and was able to escape back to her feet multiple times.
Crucially, Namajunas has excelled in the championship rounds. While her decision win in the second Zhang fight was mildly controversial, all three judges gave her rounds four and five. Esparza has never seen a fourth round, which is a big disadvantage against Rose.
With Namajunas having the edge in striking, submissions, and championship round experience, she’s a deserving favorite. While I’m not the biggest fan of laying heavy juice in MMA fights, Rose can still be had for as low as -190 on PointsBet.
Esparza has also been knocked out a couple of times in her UFC career. When coupled with Rose’s power, and the chances of a TKO by attrition down the stretch, I have some interest in Namajunas by (T)KO at +400 on Caesars.
I prefer that to her inside the distance line of +200. Though Namajunas has solid submission skills, she will likely spend most of her time on the mat trying to return to her feet as opposed to hunting subs.
I could also see some live betting opportunities on Namajunas. If she’s taken down early and loses the first round or two, the odds could swing her direction. Namajunas should have a significant cardio advantage though, and Esparza will need to expend a ton of energy to bring Rose to the ground. Look for opportunities after rounds one or two where Namajunas approaches -125 or so.
The Pick: Rose Namajunas Moneyline -190 (PointsBet) take to -200 | 0.5 units Namajunas by (T)KO +400 (Caesars) down to +350