LOOK: Seniesa Estrada vs. Marlen Esparza stopped after gruesome cut from head butt
Esparza wanted to continue the fight, but referee Robert Byrd would not allow it to continue
LAS VEGAS — A women's title grudge between heated rivals produced nine rounds of sustained action and one of the gnarliest cuts in recent history.
Seniesa Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) took home a unanimous technical decision on Saturday after referee Robert Byrd ruled Marlen Esparza (7-1, 1 KO) was unable to come out for the 10th and final round due to a nasty cut on her forehead that was caused by an accidental head butt.
All three judges scored the fight for Estrada (90-81, 89-82, 88-83), a native of East Los Angeles, who captured the vacant interim WBA women's flyweight title. She had added extra heat to this matchup by pushing Esparza during Tuesday's grand arrival.
"No, the beef is not settled," Estrada said. "Respect to her team, but I still don't like her."
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Estrada, a southpaw who moved up in weight, accidentally clashed heads with Esparza in Round 5 to create a nasty gash across the hairline on the 2012 U.S. Olympian's forehead. Esparza fought valiantly over the final four rounds of the bout despite having her vision compromised and her face covered in crimson.
"I was early so I was really trying to decide if it was ok or not," Esparza said. "I'm sorry guys I couldn't continue but I couldn't see anything. I could have stopped after the 3rd round, 4th round, whenever it happened, but it was really hard to deal with, it was really hard to see.
"It was multiple head butts. A lot of times when we were clinging, and you saw me leaning in, it was because she rushed in with the head butt. A lot of times it was making me dizzy. There wasn't anything I could do with her head, I really thought I was winning."
Estrada refused to give in to the idea that the accidental foul definitively played a role in the outcome.
"Head butt or not, I still whooped her ass every round," Estrada said. "I didn't really target it too much. I felt great, I'm made for the late rounds. I can go 15 rounds, take it back old school."
Although she gutted it out, Esparza slowly began to fade in the rounds after the cut. A Houston native who gave birth to her first child earlier this year, Esparza took issue with the scoring after the fight.
"I'm real surprised," Esparza said. "I didn't feel like that was really what was happening at all. I was making connections on the outside. I didn't think I lost that many rounds. I want to be sad but I can't, because I got head butted really early."
The first half of the fight featured exciting two-way action in the rare women's professional bout contracted for three-minute rounds, as opposed to the normal standard of two minutes.
Esparza apologized to the fans for her performance after the fight and referenced her inability to see. She also shared interest in a rematch.
"I do [want a rematch]," Esparza said. "Without that head butt, there was nothing she was doing."
Estrada failed to agree with Esparza's stance.
"I mean, no, I clearly won every round head butt or not, and I mean, this isn't even my weight class," she said. "I came up to fight her."
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