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UFC 281: Zhang Weili admission worries fans — Carla Esparza ‘will be the first wrestler I meet’

UFC 275: Zhang v Jedrzejczyk 2 Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Former UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili will look to reclaim the 115-pound strap when she collides with reigning division titleholder Carla Esparza in the upcoming UFC 281 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, scheduled for Sat., Nov. 12, 2022 inside Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Zhang already demonstrated her power inside the Octagon, registering nearly a dozen knockouts in 22 wins, but how will “Magnum” deal with the wrestling-based offense of the 34 year-old “Cookie Monster?” Unfortunately for Zhang fans, they won’t know the answer until the cage door closes on fight night.

“Carla is a respectable rival. Her up and down experience is very inspiring and gives me power to keep going on,” Zhang told Shanghai Daily. “Carla will be the first wrestler I meet, so I am very interested in the progress of exchanging all we got in the arsenal. My goal is to dominate the show.”

Esparza captured the crown with a tepid decision win over longtime rival Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 back in May. “Cookie Monster” (19-6) is the winner of six straight with three of those contests ending by way of split decision. As for the 33 year-old Weili (22-3), she dropped consecutive title fights to Namajunas but recently bounced back by knocking out Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 275.

UFC 281 will be headlined by the middleweight title fight pitting current 185-pound kingpin Israel Adesanya against longtime kickboxing rival Alex Pereira, who already holds two victories (including one knockout) over “The Last Stylebender.” Elsewhere on the card, former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes returns to battle Ryan Spann.

For the latest UFC 281 fight card and PPV lineup click here.

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