UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza gave fans a glimpse into her weight-cut ahead of UFC 281.
Esparza returns to the Octagon on November 12th, putting her title on the line against former strawweight champion Zhang Weili. The last time ‘Cookie Monster’ was in action, she defeated Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 in May to capture the title for the second time in a critically-panned contest that saw very little action from both fighters. Esparza was awarded the victory and the title via a split decision.
As Carla Esparza prepares for the first title defense of her second reign, she shared her weight loss progress on Instagram with a little over a month to go before fight night.
“Just 4 weeks of my gradual weight loss journey/fight camp! (Still 5.5 weeks to go till fight time). My weight cuts are more of a slow and healthy progression down close to my weight class.”
Instead of cutting water weight in the days before her showdown with Zhang Weili, Esparza opted to bring down her weight gradually throughout the course of her fight camp. Avoiding the standard process of dehydrating one’s self to often dangerous levels, Carla Esparza will likely retain much of the strength and cardio that has made her arguably the best wrestler in the strawweight division.
Zhang Weili Favored in Strawweight Title Fight With Carla Esparza
While Carla Esparza is a two-time strawweight champion, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that was particularly impressed with her performance against ‘Thug Rose’ in May. Hailed as the worst fights in UFC history, her narrow and often criticized defeat of Namajunas is likely the reason why she opened as the underdog against Zhang Weili.
According to Best Fight Odds, Weili enters the bout as a -150 favorite versus the underdog Esparza sitting at +130. Those odds will most certainly change as we get closer to the November showdown, but in all likelihood, the margin will widen as UFC fans don’t have much faith in Esparza’s wrestle-heavy approach. Especially against a prolific striker like Weili who has 11 knockouts to her credit.
Of course, should things go to the ground, ‘Magnum’ is more than capable of handling herself on the canvas with seven career submission victories.