Former (and original) UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza will return to the octagon this February, the UFC announced today. Esparza (11–3), who has fought just once since losing her title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185, will meet Randa Markos (6–4) at UFC Fight Night 105. The event takes place February 19 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will be the promotion’s first Canadian stop of 2017.
Both women were part of The Ultimate Fighter 20, which introduced the strawweight division to the UFC. Esparza won the show and the title, defeating Rose Namajunas, but would drop the belt to Jedrzejczyk in her first attempt to defend it. Her return fight in April of this year saw her score a decision win over Julianna Lima.
Markos, meanwhile, was last seen suffering a submission loss to Cortney Casey at UFC 202 in August. Prior to that, she took a decision win over Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger at UFC Ottawa in June, and has been trading wins and losses throughout her UFC career. Both fighters are solid wrestlers, but Esparza represents some of the best in the division.
UFC Fight Night Halifax is headlined by a heavyweight rematch between Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic. The card now includes:
Junior Dos Santos vs. Stefan Struve – five round main event
Cezar Ferreira vs. Elias Theodorou
Jack Marshman vs. Thiago Santos
Alvaro Herrera vs. Alessandro Ricci
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Nordine Taleb
Reginaldo Vieira vs. Aiemann Zahabi
Carla Esparza vs. Randa Markos