Carla Esparza (pictured) became the UFC’s inaugural strawweight champion two years ago by winning “The Ultimate Fighter 20.”
The former Invicta FC champ not only scored a six-figure UFC contract by submitting Rose Namajunas in the tournament finals, but also took home a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle for her efforts.
What did Esparza do immediately after becoming a UFC champion? Splurge on a $1,000 “Golden Opulence Sundae” at Serendipity 3 restaurant in New York City with BFF Felice Herrig.
Well it finally happened, the $1,000 "Golden Opulence" Sundae at @serendipity3nyc !!! @feliceherrig and I went through so much over the years to finally get to this point in our careers. Women's MMA has finally made it, so cheers to that! One of the best experiences of my life, thank you to the fans who believed in WMMA and in us, and let let us realize our first win in the @UFC!! 🙂
Fast forward almost 24 months to the day and Esparza claims she is nearly dead broke.
Sad, but apparently a true story…
If anyone is interested, I am selling my 2015 Harley Breakout that I won on The Ultimate Fighter 20 "A Champion Will be Crowned". Brand new (bc of my shoulder surgery), purchase price was $19,799. Going with highest bid OBO. It's very unfortunate that I am selling this bike not because I want to, but because I HAVE to in order to make ends meet. After having a year off from shoulder surgery (injury obtained at UFC 185), taking a short notice fight, and then 8 months since that fight, I literally have enough in my bank account to pay for 2 more months of bills. I need to fight and have been asking for a fight for so long, multiple times a week. I know I can make my run again but I also know that after being off for so long that I'm not ready to fight a title contention fight right away and all I'm being offered is the #1 contender (whom I've accepted and been scheduled to fight 2x in the past). I'm 100% down for that fight. I just asked for just one non-title contention fight with an actual camp after having so much time off from injury and the result is being benched for 8 months and still no word of a fight, not even a whisper. I'm at a loss of what to do. When I make my run, my intention is to WIN not because I'm being forced to when I'm not ready. Just frustrated and sad 🙁 if anyone is interested in buying my Harley or knows someone that might please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the picture posted on her verified Instagram account, Esparza says she only has enough in her depleted bank account to cover the next two months of bills. In order to “make ends meet,” Esparza is trying to sell the brand new Harley she won on TUF 20, which at the time came with a purchase price of $19,799.
Esparza hasn’t been seen since beating Juliana Lima in April. She pocketed a disclosed salary of $60,000, with half coming via win bonus, that evening. However, Esparza says her financial troubles started well before beating Lima.
After accepting a short-notice bout to defend her title against current champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 185, Esparza underwent surgery to repair the shoulder she injured in the loss. She was sidelined for over 13 months before facing Lima.
And as most UFC fighters will tell you, especially those without major sponsors in their back pocket, you don’t fight, you don’t get paid.
On the flipside, beggars can’t be choosers. Esparza has been requesting a “non-title contention fight” for her next outing because she has been fairly inactive over the past 19 months, but the UFC is only offering a #1 contender opponent.
The 29-year-old says the UFC has been radio silent since she declined their offer.