Thursday, December 1, 2022

Carla Esparza: Zhang Weili Underestimated Rose Like She’s Doing Me

UFC Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza feels Zhang Weili is overlooking her and that it could lead to her downfall.

Esparza will defend her title against Weili in the UFC 281 co-main event on Saturday. She earned the belt by defeating Rose Namajunas via a split decision earlier this year at UFC 274.

Weili will get another title shot this weekend after her knockout of Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 275. She’s a massive betting favorite and could make MMA history when it comes to the sportsbooks ahead of UFC 281.

Not many fans and pundits are giving Esparza a chance to win this Saturday despite beginning her second stint as strawweight champion. Esparza is aware of this and also believes that Weili feels she can coast to victory, but the titleholder has other plans.

Carla Esparza Feels Zhang Weili Is Repeating A Recent Mistake

MMA Junkie and ESPN

During her UFC 281 media day, Esparza compared Weili’s approach to her fights against Namajunas with their upcoming UFC 281 clash.

“In my mind, it could be wrong, but I think she underestimated Rose as she’s doing me,” Esparza said. “I think that she kinda wasn’t expecting that from Rose, and Rose just brought her best game like I’m planning to do. Hopefully I get a similar finish.”

The finish that Esparza is referring to was Namajunas’ wild head kick knockout at UFC 261. Namajunas went on to defeat Weili in an immediate rematch that went the full distance, earning the victory via a split decision.

Esparza is no stranger to proving people, including her opponents, wrong. She was the underdog against Namajunas before pulling off the upset at UFC 274.

After winning the inaugural UFC strawweight title in 2014, Esparza has arguably been a forgotten force in the division. This weekend, she’s hoping to remind Weili and her detractors that doubting her skillset isn’t a wise choice.

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