The Californian has consistently proven sports books wrong by avoiding complacency in her training. After her losses she went back to the drawing board and changed things such as her nutrition and worked heavily to change the way she thought about training.

“I think a couple years ago, before I kind of got on my win streak, I had to go back to the drawing board to figure out what I had to do to start winning again,” Esparza said. “‘I have to evolve, see where I am lacking, what spots can I improve on.’ I think with the sport of MMA there is just a boundless supply of techniques and new things to learn. You can take the individual sports and spend so many years and not know it all, so I think it’s just having an open mind to new ideas and taking that beginner’s mindset back to training.”

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An open mind is one of the biggest reasons that Esparza was able to rack up consecutive wins over contenders Virna Jandiroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez. Building on each of those successes as if she was restarting after each fight has been one of the biggest keys to Esparza’s jump into title contention.

The journey hasn’t been an easy one, but Esparza’s belief never wavered and she’s confident that she’ll get one step closer to a title shot on Saturday.


Make sure you tune into Esparza’s co-main event bout with Yan on UFC Fight Night: Font vs Garbrandt. The event’s prelims begin at 4pm ET / 1pm PT, with the main card starting at 7pm ET / 4pm PT.