NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 12: Weili Zhang battles Carla Esparza during their Women Strawweight fight UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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See how fellow fighters reacted to Weili Zhang becoming, once again, the UFC women’s strawweight champion with a win over Carla Esparza at UFC 281
Weili Zhang has regained the UFC women’s strawweight championship, making it a quick night against Carla Esparza and scoring a second-round finish.
After some feeling out, Zhang got off to a good start by landing tactically. Esparza tried to level change and went for a takedown, but Zhang reversed and started a scrambling exchange, with Zhang threatening a pair of choke attempts. Zhang got the better of another late grappling exchange in terms of positioning, though Esparza sought a late armbar.
After a couple of early hard shots to start the second, Esparza went in for another takedown. But Zhang reversed it quickly, locking in a rear-naked choke from a crucifix position, scoring the tap and the gold.
UFC 281: Pros react to Carla Esparza vs. Weili Zhang
Ok, I told you, I’m next!👀😅
If @rosenamajunas isn’t ready yet, let’s do it @CarlaEsparza1 ! 👊🏻
Take your time, and next year we will be ready to make this match! What do you think? If you want, I let you use my walking song again, no problem! 🤝 #ufc281 @ufc
— Marina Rodriguez🇧🇷 (@wmmarz) November 13, 2022
Congrats Weili beautiful performance 🙏🏾
— Terrance ‘T Wrecks’ McKinney (@twrecks155) November 13, 2022
OMG! Weili just submitted Carla . WOW!! I expected a KO.. but submission?! 😳
— Diana Belbiță (@DianaBelbita) November 13, 2022
NEVER would have thought Zhang to win by sub. 👏 Congratulations. Amazing transitions
— Mike “Beast Boy” Davis (@MikeDavisMMA) November 13, 2022
Esparza gained the UFC women’s strawweight title for a second time at UFC 274 in May, defeating Rose Namajunas in a highly underwhelming decision. The title win marked her sixth in a row.
Esparza originally won the title from her victory over Namajunas in the finals of season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, becoming the inaugural UFC 115-pound champion. She, however, lost the title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first defense at UFC 185.
Zhang became UFC women’s strawweight champion back in August 2019, scoring a first-round finish against Jessica Andrade. She retained the title against Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 but dropped the title to Namajunas at UFC 261. Zhang controversially lost the rematch with Namajunas at UFC 268 but scored a finish of Jedrzejczyk in their rematch at UFC 275.