If UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza fights Zhang Weili next, it will be on her own terms.
Carla Esparza not accommodating for Weili
Over this past weekend, Zhang Weili put herself back in the conversation for title contention with her knockout victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
After a dominant showing in the first round of their fight, Weili landed a spectacular spinning backfist on Jedrzejczyk, which knocked the Polish striker out. After the fight, Jedrzejczyk announced her retirement from the mixed martial arts (MMA) competition.
Shortly after the contest, Weili proposed a title fight with champion Esparza in Abu Dhabi, citing it would be neutral territory for both fighters.
Speaking to The New York Post, Esparza has responded to Weili’s challenge. Esparza says, if Weili is her next opponent, she’ll face the Chinese star on her own terms.
“I definitely don’t feel like I’m in a position where I should rush just because Weili wants a certain date,” she said. “I’m not trying to go on her timeline. I’m the champion, and I feel she needs to go on my timeline.”
As a result of her victory over Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 last month, Esparza became the second woman to win the UFC championship twice. In addition, Esparza’s first reign as champion coincided with a victory over Namajunas on The Ultimate Fighter 20 in 2014.
Even so, Esparza’s UFC strawweight title reign would not last long, as Jedrzejczyk would take over the title four months after Esparza won.
“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. ” Esparza said of her first run with the title. “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?”
Despite being successful in reclaiming the championship, Esparza’s rematch with Namajunas has been cited as one of, if not the, most disappointing MMA matches in history.