Saturday night, in the co-main event of UFC 281, Zhang Weili recaptured the strawweight championship by defeating Carla Esparza via second-round submission (rear-naked choke).
The first round saw the strawweights fight at a frenetic pace. Weili stalked forward with strikes, while Esparza secured some well-timed takedowns off the kicks of her opponent. Early in the second round, a wild grappling exchange saw Weili secure her arm around the neck of Esparza, forcing the tap.
China’s Weili improves to 23-3-0 overall. She becomes the third woman, after Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza, to be a two-time strawweight champion.
Esparza moves to 20-7-0. The loss sees a six-fight win streak snapped for the now former two-time UFC champion.
UFC 281 took place on November 12, 2022, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.