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Joanna Jedrzejczyk defends Carla Esparza ahead of UFC 281: ‘She deserves respect and all the attention’

UFC 185 Weigh-ins Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Joanna Jedrzejczyk isn’t a fan of the vitriol coming Carla Esparza’s way as of late.

The Strawweight title is on the line this weekend (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022) at UFC 281 in Madison Square Garden. Now a two-time champion, Esparza heads into her co-main event title defense opposite Zhang Weili as a sizable underdog.

The buildup to the fight has seen fans aplenty giving Esparza next to no chance and even booed her at UFC 281’s pre-fight press conference yesterday (Weds., Nov. 9, 2022). As a former opponent of Esparza’s, Jedrzjeczyk doesn’t see the critique as fair.

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YEAR-END PPV BLOWOUT! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) closes out its final pay-per-view (PPV) of the year on Sat., Dec. 10, 2022, with a battle for the vacant Light Heavyweight crown between former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Jan Blachowicz, looking to stop the momentum of No. 3-seeded Magomed Ankalaev. In the co-main event of UFC 282, which will take place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, breakout star, Paddy Pimblett, intends to keep his momentum going at the expense of gritty veteran, Jared Gordon.

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“She’s the champ, she deserves respect and all the attention,” Jędrzejczyk said today (Thurs., Nov. 10, 2022) at a special UFC 281 media day (h/t MMA News). “It’s not only about being the best athlete, it’s about having the best character if fans see charisma in you or not. If I was becoming the strawweight champion for a second time, I would get bigger. I would double the amount of followers, money, contracts, everything. It looks like for Carla Esparza, it’s enough. It’s okay, we have to respect that, but she’s the champ so she deserves all the respect right now.”

Jedrzejczyk won UFC’s Strawweight title against Esparza in March 2015 via second round technical knockout, going on a historic five-title defense run afterward. Dropping the title in Nov. 2017, Jedrzejczyk fought seven more times before calling it a career in June 2022 on the heels of a Zhang Weili second-round spinning-back fist knockout (watch highlights). will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 281 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPNews at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 281: “Adesanya vs. Pereira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the complete UFC 281 fight card and PPV line up click here.

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