Weili Zhang recaptured the strawweight title with a submission win over Carla Esparza at UFC 281. The Chinese fighter controlled the action from start to finish in the UFC 281 co-headliner.
Both fighters made a tentative start with Esparza backtracking and Zhang applying pressure without getting close enough to land any strikes. A body kick found its target and a head kick narrowly missed.
Esparza was continuously circling to her left and succeeded in catching another high kick and taking Zhang down but it was the challenger who benefitted, taking her opponent’s back. A scramble ensued and the champion found herself in guard but couldn’t do any damage from top position.
Esparza caught another kick towards the end of the round but ended up on her back with Zhang in side control and throwing hard elbows. The Chinese fighter scored with a body kick at the start of the second stanza and her opponent immediately shot for a double leg.
GIVE HER THE BELT BACK 🏆@MMAWeili recaptures gold at #UFC281!! pic.twitter.com/su4ioC7DIP
— UFC (@ufc) November 13, 2022
But it was a move that backfired badly for Esparza. Zhang had her back albeit from a crucifix position and with no hooks in but the challenger was able to sink her forearm under the chin and clash her arms together for the choke.
The tap came at the 1:05 mark with Zhang scoring the first submission win of her UFC career. The only consolation for Esparza was that, unlike her last fight, this affair produced plenty of action.
With the win Zhang recaptures the strawweight title and improves to 23-3. Esparza drops to 19-7 after losing the UFC strawweight title in her first defence for the second time.
Official #UFC281 Result: Zhang Weili (@MMAWeili) defeats Carla Esparza by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:05 of Round 2
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— UFC News (@UFCNews) November 13, 2022
Best of the rest
Michael Trizano (10-3) and Choi Seung-Woo (10-6) put on a barnburner and will have to be in contention when the performance bonuses are announced. Unfortunately for the Korean he was on the losing end, with the American putting him away towards the end of an action packed opening round.
UFC 281, New York, November 12th
Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Alex Pereira TBD
Weili Zhang def. Carla Esparza via Submission (Rear-naked choke) at 1:05 of R2
Dustin Poirier def. Michael Chandler via Submission (Rear-naked choke) at 2:00 of R3
Chris Gutiérrez def. Frankie Edgar via KO (Knee) at 2:01 of R1
Dan Hooker def. Claudio Puelles via TKO (Body kick) at 4:06 of R2
Renato Moicano def. Brad Riddell via Submission (Rear-naked choke) at 3:20 of R1
Ryan Spann def. Dominick Reyes via KO (Punches) at 1:20 of R1
Erin Blanchfield def. Molly McCann via Submission (Kimura) at 3:37 of R1
Andre Petroski def. Wellington Turman via Decision (Unanimous)
Matt Frevola def. Ottman Azaitar via KO (Punch) at 2:30 of R1
Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Silvana Gómez Juárez via Decision (Unanimous)
Michael Trizano def. Choi Seung-Woo via KO (Punches) at 4:51 of R1
Montel Jackson def. Julio Arce via Decision (Unanimous)
Carlos Ulberg def. Nicolae Negumereanu via KO (Punches) at 3:44 of R1