Carla Esparza to Defend UFC Women’s Strawweight Title Against Zhang Weili

Carla Esparza is ready to defend her title…

The 34-year-old part-Mexican and part-Ecuadorian American will face off against Zhang Weili at Madison Square Garden in a UFC women’s strawweight title fight.

Carla Esparza

Esperza, the current champion, and Zhang, the former champ, has been verbally agreed to for UFC 281 on November 12 in New York, according to ESPN.

The fight hasn’t yet been signed, nor officially announced by the UFC. But bout agreements have been sent out, per sources.

Both fighters have posted about the fight on their respective social media accounts. The news of the fight was first reported by MMA reporter Ariel Helwani.

ESPN has Esparza ranked No. 1 in the world at 115 pounds and Zhang at No. 3.

Esparza (19-6) became a two-time UFC women’s strawweight champion when she beat Rose Namajunas via split decision at UFC 274 back in May. The California native was the first-ever UFC women’s strawweight champion, beating Namajunas to win The Ultimate Fighter — and the inaugural belt — in 2014. Esparza, 34, is on a six-fight winning streak.

Zhang (22-3) is coming off a second-round knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk in June. The Chinese-born fighter lost the title to Namajunas at UFC 261 in April 2021 and then lost the rematch to Namajunas at Madison Square Garden last November at UFC 268. Zhang, 33, became the first Chinese-born fighter and second Asia-born fighter to win a UFC title when she beat Jessica Andrade to win the 115-pound belt in 2019.

UFC 281 will be headlined by a middleweight title fight between champion Israel Adesanyaand former kickboxing rival and top contender Alex Pereira.

Alex Pereira to Fight UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 281

Alex Pereira is taking on a champion…

Israel Adesanya will defend his UFC middleweight title against the 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former kickboxer, his old rival, in the headliner of UFC 281 on November 12 in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Alex Pereira

Pereira owns two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, including one via knockout. ESPN has Adesanya ranked tied for third on its pound-for-pound MMA list. At middleweight, Adesanya is No. 1 and Pereira is No. 7.

Pereira, a former two-division Glory Kickboxing champion, beat Adesanya in kickboxing once by decision in 2016 and then again a year later via knockout.

Adesanya (23-1) is undefeated in his career at middleweight. The Nigerian-born New Zealand resident has won three straight since falling in a light heavyweight title bout to Jan Blachowicz in March 2021. Adesanya, 33, owns five successful title defenses at middleweight, holding the undisputed title since October 2019.

Pereira (6-1) is coming off a first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276 last month, the same card in which Adesanya defended his title successfully against Jared Cannonier. The Brazilian slugger has five finishes in six career pro MMA victories since coming over from kickboxing.

Pereira, 35, is 3-0 in the UFC with a pair of $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses to his name.