Sunday, June 26, 2022

Esparza Claims Zhang Weili Turned Down Two Fights While Champion

Carla Esparza is now in the driver’s seat regarding a matchup with Zhang Weili.

With the UFC strawweight championship belt securely in the hands of newly crowned champion Carla Esparza, she is calling her own shots. The bout between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 275 was supposed to determine the next title challenger according to UFC President Dana White. With Weili coming out victorious a bout with Esparza should be set, however, Esparza isn’t ready to sign that contract so quickly.

“I’ve actually accepted two fights with Weili and she turned them down when she was champ,” Esparza told MMA Fighting. “So I’m not afraid to fight anybody. I just gotta do it on my timeline.”

Esparza is claiming that during Weili’s title run the UFC tried to match them up on multiple occasions. Weili was the strawweight champion from 2019 to 2021. During that time, she only faced two opponents, Rose Namajunas, and Jędrzejczyk. Meanwhile, Esparza was staying active with four fights of her own. She explained why she didn’t fight Weili back then.

“Yes, when there was kind of a hold on the fight that was supposed to happen with Rose and Weili, they offered me the fight with Weili twice, and I accepted both times. One was a little longer time, one was short notice,” she explained. “But, I was like, ‘Hey, I don’t care if it’s one week, the opportunity to fight for the belt, I’m gonna take any opportunity.’ And I said yes, and she said no.”

Esparza only won the belt about a month ago and is adamant that her first title defense happens on her timeline. There has been some backlash from these comments, some implying that Esparza may be scared to face Weili. She denies these claims and states that, in fact, she will accept the fight as she has done twice before.

“So, I even have messages from people who saw the media being ready to put out at one of the pay-per-views, I think in like, November or something, where they were ready to announce the fight between me and Weili, but they kept waiting to hear back from her, if she was gonna accept it, and it ended up that she didn’t,” she said.

Do you think Carla Esparza will make her first title defense against Zhang Weili?

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