China's Zhang Weili eyes a clear title win in UFC 281
China's first UFC champion Zhang Weili said here on Sunday that she wants a clear title win against Carla Esparza on November's UFC 281.
With two months to step inside the Octagon, Zhang focused on enhancing her all-around mixed martial arts to dominate the match. Just like what she did to Joanna Jedrzejczyk on June's UFC 275, Zhang wanted a clear victory against reigning champion Esparza on November 12 in the UFC 281 co-main event at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"Carla is a respectable rival. Her up and down experience is very inspiring and gives me power to keep going on," said Zhang.
Esparza was the first woman to win the UFC strawweight belt, but soon lost it in her first defending match. More than seven years later, she came back with six-straight wins to regain the title from Rose Namajunas.
It will be Zhang's second visit to Madison Square Garden. Zhang became the first Asian to win the UFC title in 2019. But last time in New York, she failed to win her belt back from Namajunas, after facing a series of unexpected issues.
"All the past, all is overture. I won't make the same mistakes this time," said Zhang.
Zhang changed to work with a new team, faced weight cutting challenge, worried more about the outcome of her match against Namajunas in 2021. Finally, her fear to lose trapped her eager to win.
"Now I don't care about win or lose anymore. Carla will be the first wrestler I met, so I am very interested in the progress of exchanging all we got in the arsenal. My goal is to dominate the show," said Zhang.
Two more China's mixed martial arts fighters will step on UFC main events in the next two months. Bantamweight fighter Song Yadong will challenge American kickboxer Cory Sandhagen on September 17. Yan Xiaonan will face American jiu jitsu black belt Mackenzie Dern on October 1.
"I am happy that more excellent fighters are joining us in the main show. I believe that it will not only benefit the fighters, but also benefit the entire MMA movement," said Zhang.