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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Carla Esparza Reveals Fight with Zhang Weili at UFC 281

Carla Esparza, UFC 274 pre-fight press conference Photo: Eddie Law/Cageside Press

There appears to be a second title fight at UFC 281 in New York.

Carla Esparza will defend her women’s strawweight title against Weili Zhang in the Nov. 12, 2022 bout expected to be the co-main event of the night. Ariel Helwani The date was first reported, and UFC President Dana White previously said the winner of Zhang’s fight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk earlier this year would take the title.

Esparza himself confirmed the news on Thursday, calling the match “official.”

Esparza (19-6), the UFC’s inaugural 115-pound champion in 2014, defeated Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 in May to regain the title about seven years after she lost it title. “Cookie Monster” has won six straight, but her victory over Namajunas, and the entire bout, was widely mocked as one of the most tedious UFC title fights of all time.

Since both Namajunas and Esparza are two-time UFC champions, Zhang (22-3) hopes to do the same at UFC 281. The Chinese star beat Jessica Andrade for gold in 2019 and an instant classic against Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 before the coronavirus pandemic hit the West Coast.

Zhang later lost the belt to Namajunas and had an immediate rematch with Thug Rose.

UFC 281 will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY on November 12, 2022. So far, the following matches have been reported:

  • Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Alex Pereira – UFC Middleweight Champion
  • Carla Esparza (c) vs. Weili Zhang – UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship
  • Molly McCann vs. Erin Blanchfield
  • Dominic Reyes vs. Ryan Spann
  • Michael Trizano vs. Seung Woo Choi
  • Renato Moicano vs. Brad Riddle


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