Here is an excerpt from the profile I wrote about the inspiring and kick-butt female MMA champion Carla Esparza for the L.A. Weekly 2013 “Best Of L.A. People” Issue! Special thanks to Carla, my editor Jill Stewart and all of the other fascinating Angelenos featured in the issue! See the entire article at www.laweekly.com.
In January, Carla Esparza became the first Invicta Fighting Championships Straw-weight Champion in Women’s Mixed Martial Arts. The gorgeous 25-year-old, ranked No. 1 in her weight class in the world, says her victory against Bec Hyatt via unanimous decision was like a dream. “There’s a goal you aim toward, and the accumulation of training and hard work all come together when you have your hand raised! Even if you come out bloodied and broken — it’s all for that one moment. It’s almost unreal.”
Carla “The Cookie Monster” Esparza was drawn to wrestling at Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach when football players in the weight room expressed surprise at how strong she was for her size (at 5-foot-1, she’s 4 inches shorter than the current Atomweight female champ)…
Esparza has sustained injuries including sprains, bruises, torn ligaments, a snapped elbow, a broken ankle and a concussion. “People aren’t used to it, seeing women fighting against women and getting hurt,” she says. “It is raw and intense, and it awakens that basic instinct that people have to attack or defend. But between the fighters, the more intense it gets, the more we love each other.”
She believes that “day after day, we are changing people’s minds” about women in MMA… People usually don’t recognize her, but she says, laughing, “You get to dress up and go out with a black eye, and that’s kinda hot!”
Most of all, she says, “I feel grateful to be doing what I love.”