Saturday, July 2, 2022

Carla Esparza Reminds Zhang Weili Who Has All The Leverage

UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza has reminded top contender Zhang Weili who calls the shots in the division.

This past weekend, Weili rebounded from back-to-back defeats at the hands of Rose Namajunas in style. In a rematch with Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 275, “Magnum” looked back to her best, both on the ground in the first round and with her striking in the second, the frame in which the fight would come to an end.

While the pair’s first clash was memorable for its back-and-forth nature across 25 minutes, their second dance will be remembered for delivering a Knockout of the Year contender courtesy of a spinning back fist from Weili.

With Dana White‘s pre-fight comments, both women entered the Singapore-held event known that a win would secure them a shot at gold. And having come out on top, Weili called for her opportunity, and even gave a time and a place.

“So I want to fight with Carla at Abu Dhabi (because) I know there’s a (card there on October 22),” Zhang said during the UFC 275 post-fight press conference via a translator. “I think Carla is a special fighter, too, so I think that’s gonna be a really good fight, for me and for her. Not China, not US, we’re gonna fight at a third country so that it can be fair for both of us.”

The Chinese star has now received a response, but it’s perhaps not one that she’d have hoped for.

Speaking to the New York Post following this past weekend’s blockbuster pay-per-view, Esparza reacted to the emergence of the first challenger to her second reign and Weili’s Abu Dhabi proposal. The strawweight queen made it clear that she won’t be dictated by the #2-ranked contender and her requests.

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

Esparza regained her place on the 115-pound throne, which she first held back in 2014, with a second career victory over Namajunas last month. “Cookie Monster” earned the nod on the scorecards after a lackluster affair that saw both women criticized post-fight.

Having suggested that “Thug Rose” fought with the complete wrong attitude at UFC 274, it stands to reason that Weili won’t let her championship fight with Esparza go in the same direction.

And with Esparza evidently in no rush to defend the belt, “Magnum” will certainly have plenty of time to prepare for her attempt to become the third woman to regain a piece of UFC gold.

Do you think Zhang Weili will dethrone Carla Esparza when they share the Octagon?

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