Carla Esparza has defied several odds in her life, including when she secured the UFC strawweight title not once but twice in her career so far. Despite losing the belt to Zhang Weili last year, she still has several positive things to look forward to. In March end, ‘Cookie Monster’ took to Twitter to announce her pregnancy with her husband.
In the post dated March 26, Esparza expressed her excitement for this next beautiful chapter of her life. The 35-year-old also shared that she wishes to return back to gracing the Octagon in “early to mid 2024.”
So we’ve been keeping a little secret for the last 14 weeks… we’re expecting! Baby Cookie Monster 🍪 Grand Entrance September 2023 🥰💙💗💙💗
Excited for this next chapter… and hoping to make my return early to mid 2024😉👊🏽 pic.twitter.com/rdYp9f2rh5
— Carla Esparza (@CarlaEsparza1) March 26, 2023
The couple is currently expecting a September due date and it’s Carla’s first child with her husband, Matthew Lomeli. Carla became the inaugural UFC strawweight champion after submitting Rose Namajunas in 2014. She repeated history after reclaiming the belt in a second outing with Namajunas. The duo received a lot of flak from fighters and fans alike due to their lackluster performance.
Exactly a year and a day after she bagged the UFC gold, Esparza took to Twitter to display her baby bump. The collage also displays UFC president Dana White wrapping the belt around her. As she stood in front of a mirror, the Californian shared, “This day last year, I woke up as UFC Champion ! 1 year later, I wake up and I’m 20 weeks pregnant. Life is a trip!“
This day last year, I woke up as UFC Champion 🏆! 1 year later, I wake up and I’m 20 weeks pregnant🤰🏻. Life is a trip! pic.twitter.com/doLecfs4Lc
— Carla Esparza (@CarlaEsparza1) May 8, 2023
At this point of her hiatus, ‘Cookie Monster‘ is ranked #1 in the strawweight division. In terms of the women’s pound-for-pound rankings, she stands at #7. As of May 2023, Zhang Weili hasn’t made her title defense since winning it from Esparza in their November 2022 showdown.
Before tying the knot, Carla Esparza set out to reclaim the UFC gold
Carla Esparza knew there was a high chance that her UFC 274 title fight might coincide with her upcoming wedding at the time. When the UFC brass offered her a chance to reclaim the strawweight belt against Rose Namajunas in May 2022. At that point, Carla had a tough decision to make.
According to the LA Times, the pair dated for a while before Lomali asked the former UFC champion to be his wife in June 2021. Despite planning the wedding well in advance, the May 14 date always carried an unofficial asterisk to it.
Thus. even with a victory on May 7, Esparza would have had to walk down the aisle looking just like she’d gone through a five-round war. Luckily for her, Matthew, her husband offered tremendous support, encouraging her to grace the Octagon to take advantage of the massive opportunity.
Carla became a two-time strawweight champion at UFC 274 in what was largely an uneventful night. Despite the criticism she received, Carla set a record for the longest time between UFC title reigns by any athlete, male or female, at 2.612 days.
Carla’s title shot came seven years after losing the belt to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2015, an outcome Esparza struggled with for a long time. In 2018, she lost two straight bouts after which everything seemed to click for her. Since then, the 35-year-old racked up 5 wins in a row, with statement victories over Alexa Grasso and Michelle Waterson, two of the top strawweight contenders.
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Unfortunately, her second title reign only lasted for six months as Zhang Weili submitted Carla via rear naked choke in the 2nd round. The November 2022 bout stands as Esparza’s last in-cage outing until her potential return in 2024.