Esparza to defend title vs. Zhang at UFC 281

Chris Unger / UFC / Getty

UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza will defend her title against Zhang Weili at UFC 281 on Nov. 12, Esparza announced Thursday on Instagram.

The event is set to take place at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Esparza (19-6) beat Rose Namajunas via split decision in a lackluster rematch in May to win UFC gold for the second time.

Zhang (22-3) dropped the belt to Namajunas in April 2021 and then lost an immediate rematch with the American six months later. She earned the chance to regain her title with a spinning-backfist knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk in June.

The Chinese fighter called for an October matchup with Esparza, but the champion said she couldn't fight until toward the end of the year due to injuries sustained against Namajunas.

Esparza is riding a six-fight winning streak dating back to April 2019. Meanwhile, Zhang won her first five bouts in the UFC, extending her unbeaten streak to 21 fights before falling twice to Namajunas.

Middleweight king Israel Adesanya will take on former kickboxing rival Alex Pereira in the main event.

Esparza to defend title vs. Zhang at UFC 281
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