Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili Full Fight UFC 281 Part 1
Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili UFC 281 MSG New York Fight Video Replay Livestream Full HD Part 1
Not many people predicted that Carla Esparza would rise to the top of the littered strawweight division. She deserved her title shot after classic narrow decisions over Virna Jandiroba( 2019), Alexa Grasso( 2020), Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez before TKOing Xiaonan Yan. It cements her title shot and rematch with Rose Namajunas back in May. Seven years ago, she beat her on Ultimate Fighter, but this fight did not live up to expectations. It was uneventful with both women afraid to pull the trigger, but someone had to win with Esparza getting the spit decision.
The fights with Namajunas byweili Zhang( 22-- 3) were far from uneventful. Zhang 's first fight was in April of last year for the title and she ate a picture perfect head kick in the first round to lose her crown and snap her 21- fight win streak. Six months later, Zhang gave a much better account of herself but failed to convince two judges in an exciting split decision. In another rematch, however, she bounced spectacularly back. After putting on the best fight in strawweight history with Joanna Jedrzejczyk( 2020), a split decision that could have gone either way, she left this time with no doubt the most impressive backfist knockout.
We all know what to expect from Esparza, and it 's to get Zhang to the deck and keep her there. On feet Zhang is clearly a different class with technique to match her power.
Even if that means walking into fire, Esparza needs to be aggressive. If she is passive again, the damage and output of Zhang in between takedown attempts will make it an easy decision for the judges. If Esparza can clamp her down and assume control time in at least two rounds, she can snatch another decision to keep her belt.
However, Zhang is a very strong grappler. She is arguably the most powerful strawweight on the roster which will allow her to stuff the majority of takedowns and create enough space to unleash her arsenal on the feet.
Esparza is such a persistent and high- level wrestler that we can see her having success with the odd takedown. However, unlike Namajunas, while they are on the feet, Zhang will be proactive and find a home for her hands. She also has the power to scramble and post back up.
It is hard to see Esparza pinning Zhang down long enough to sway the judges and there is such a gap when it comes to speed and striking that Zhang could even find the knockout.