Carla Esparza rejects the idea of fighting Weili Zhang at UFC 281: “She needs to go on my timeline”

By Susan Cox - June 14, 2022

Carla Esparza is rejecting the idea of fighting Weili Zhang at UFC 281.

Carla Esparza, UFC

UFC 281 is scheduled for Saturday October 22nd at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Carla Esparza, the newly crowned strawweight champion apparently is in no hurry to get back in the Octagon with former champion and number 2 title contender Zhang Weili.

Esparza, 34, (20-6 MMA) last fought at UFC 274 in May of this year, defeating rival Rose Namajunas (12-5 MMA) and capturing the strawweight crown.

Weili Zhang, at the UFC 275 post fight press conference this past weekend, called out Esparza after retiring Joanna Jedrzejczyk:

“I want (to) fight with Carla in Abu Dhabi because I know there’s a fight there in October.  I think Carla is a special fighter, too, and I know that can be a really good fight. Also, for me and for her – not China or the U.S. So we can fight in another country, so it’s fair for both of us.”

In speaking with ‘The New York Post‘, Carla Esparza responded to the callout saying:

“I definitely don’t feel like I’m in a position where I should rush just because Weili wants a certain date. I’m not trying to go on her timeline. I’m the champion, and I feel she needs to go on my timeline.”

Continuing ‘Cookie Monster’ spoke about getting back in the cage too soon saying:

“That was honestly a big regret of mine, letting the pressure push me into jumping back so quickly after having gone through so much fighting (on) The Ultimate Fighter. That was my fifth fight in eight months. It’s really draining. That was a big regret of mine, not letting myself recover a little bit and jumping straight back into it because feeling pressured and wanting to make the UFC happy. But in the end, if I’m losing my title, then what was it all worth anyway?”

The question then becomes, will we see Esparza back in the cage before the end of 2022? Are you looking forward to a Weili Zhang vs Carla Esparza match-up?

Share your thoughts in the comment section PENN Nation!

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Carla Esparza UFC Weili Zhang