Carla Esparza Brands Claudia Gadelha a ‘Cheater’, Accuses Her of Greasing at UFC 225

Carla Esparza accuses Claudia Gadelha of greasing her arms and legs to prevent takedowns and submissions from the former UFC women's strawweight champion

Carla Esparza was confident during UFC 225 that her opponent Claudia Gadelha was greasing and after watching the replay at home, she’s more convinced than ever that her opponent was cheating.

Esparza lost a razor close decision to Gadelha last Saturday night in a back and forth battle between two strawweight contenders with years of history between them.

As heartbreaking as the loss was considering Esparza truly believes she won, the more upsetting incident came during the fight when the former UFC champion was concerned that Gadelha had somehow greased her body to prevent takedowns and submissions.

“This is not to say anything or give an excuse why I lost because I felt like I won, but Claudia was greasing during the fight. She’s a cheater. I’ve always kind of felt she was a dirty fighter and this was my first time being in the cage with somebody that’s greasing,” Esparza explained when speaking about the fight at UFC 225. “I was pretty upset, especially after the decision went the way it did. Rewatching the first round, going for her legs and my hands are just slipping right off. Going for armbars and I remember in the fight thinking ‘what the hell, my arms are just slipping right off her arms’ trying to set up these armbars. It was getting a little bit frustrating. I contemplated talking to the referee after the second round but I really didn’t know how to go about it.

“That’s my only regret. I wish I would have spoken up about that during the fight. “There’s no question in my mind that she was greasing. Having grabbed onto her legs and having her slip right off. People get sweaty and I know the difference. I’ve been wrestling for 15 years. I’m not stupid. She’s just flat out a cheater and that’s just sad that she would do something like that.”

The act of greasing in mixed martial arts can happen by numerous methods including bathing in certain substances that make the skin slicker once sweat starts flowing from the pores.

Officials will typically check athletes before they go into the Octagon and if they believe a part of the body has some kind of extra substance on it, they can demand a towel to wipe down the area before allowing the fight to continue.

Of course while there are some preventative measures in place, Esparza is far from the first fighter to believe an opponent has greased up in some way before the fight to gain a competitive advantage.

Esparza was already convinced on the night of the fight but when she actually went back and watched the three round battle, she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Gadelha had something on her arms and legs.

“When I was grabbing her arms and my arms were just kind of like sliding right down, I was like ‘this is bulls–t’. I was almost like thinking should I tell the ref right now? That was when it really sunk into me,” Esparza explained.

“I rewatched the first round even more, I watched it twice, because I wanted to have no doubt in my mind. I didn’t have any doubt in my mind during the fight but after I had to be sure. The only single leg that I finished was when I was wrapping around so much that I was touching my own elbows. If I had just been gripping my hands, my arms would have slid right off. I’ve hit a million single legs and double legs over the years and I’ve never felt like that before.”

Unfortunately because there’s no real way to prove what happened after the fact, Esparza doesn’t believe there’s anyway to appeal the decision.

More than anything, Esparza would just like the chance to avenge the loss with hopes that the UFC will offer her a rematch against Gadelha.

“I’ve had my opinions of her in the past and maybe her being a cheater or not with other things, but now I know with 100-percent fact. You cannot like somebody as a person and still respect them as an athlete but now this takes away all your integrity as an athlete that you have to go out and cheat. It just shows me that she was afraid of me. If she thought that she could beat me, she wouldn’t need to cheat,” Esparza said.

“I would love to rematch her. Regardless of what happened in the fight, I was happy I got to punch her in the face and give her as much damage as I did in the fight. I didn’t take too much damage. This was probably the least damage I’ve taken in a fight in a long time. I would love to rematch her and hopefully have my hand raised. That’s the way I felt it should have went. I’d fight her again next week if I could.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.