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Neutral ground! Zhang Weili challenges Carla Esparza to UFC 281 title fight in Abu Dhabi

According to its official website, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will be staging the upcoming UFC 281 pay-per-view (PPV) event on Sat., Oct. 22, 2022, inside Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

That location serves as neutral territory for ex-strawweight champion and Chinese national Zhang Weili, who looks to reclaim her crown by toppling newly-minted titleholder (and American representative) Carla Esparza.

“I want to fight with Carla in Abu Dhabi because I know there’s a fight there in October,” Weili told reporters through a translator at the UFC 275 post-fight press conference (watch it here). “I think Carla is a special fighter and I know that can be a really good fight. Also, for me and for her, not China or the U.S., so we can fight in another country. It’s fair for both of us.”

Weili (22-3) punched her ticket back to a 115-pound title fight by popping and dropping former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk on the UFC 275 main card last weekend in Singapore (highlights here), her first victory since going 0-2 opposite ex-champion Rose Namajunas.

“I think there’s no weak fighter in the top rankings,” Weili continued. “So if I’m fighting Carla, I need to improve my grappling, my BJJ, my wrestling. There’s nothing I need to specially care for. I just need to improve myself. MMA is over all sports, so I don’t think we can have any disadvantage, so I want to be a well rounded fighter.”

Esparza has yet to comment on Weili’s callout.