No, UFC president Dana White has not moved to "Sesame Street." But he has cast inaugural Invicta FC strawweight champion Carla Esparza — whose nickname is Cookie Monster — in The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned. The reality show, which is in its 20th season in the U.S., will feature an all-female slate for the first time. Sixteen women, including Esparza, will be coached by current UFC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and No. 2 contender Gilbert Melendez. The first UFC women's 115-pound champ will emerge from the cast.
But back to Esparza's disarming moniker. The 26-year-old, who once owned a pair of pigs named Sonic and Lucy, was named after the well-known children's character by her longtime coach Colin Oyama. Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson's former trainer saw the acknowledged sweet tooth sneaking some treats at the gym years ago and dubbed her "Cookie Monster." The nickname has stuck. Fans have never tossed chocolate chip cookies (her favorite) to her following a match like the 12th Man might shower Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch with Skittles after a touchdown. But they have given her the popular dessert at fan events. And the moniker makes her approachable to children.
"Kids love it. They're, like, 'I don't know what you do. I think you punch people or something. But you're name is Cookie Monster. You're awesome,'" said Esparza.
The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned debuts Wednesday, September 10 at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.