Six months removed from her not-so-celebrated UFC strawweight title win over ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas at UFC 274, Carla Esparza put her championship on the line against former titleholder Zhang Weili in the UFC 281 co-main event.
With an unprecedented 2,612 separating her first world title reign from her second, Esparza walked UFC 281 in a unique position as the heavy underdog against one of the most prolific finishers in strawweight history. Was ‘Cookie Monster’ able to implement her wrestle-heavy game or did Zhang Weili once again capture UFC gold?
Zhang came out in the opening round immediately putting pressure on Esparza. Landing some solid shots and a glancing head kick, Esparza responded by shooting for a takedown but was immediately reversed. Both women scrambled for the dominant position before getting back to their feet. Esparza once again shot for a takedown, but again, found herself in an inferior position. In the second, Esparza immediately comes out shooting for a takedown. Zhang is able to scramble, taking Esparza’s back in the process, and sinks in a rear-naked choke forcing ‘Cookie Monster’ to tap out in round two.
Official Result: Zhang Weili def. Carla Esparza via submission (rear-naked choke) 1:05 of Round 2