UFC 281: Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili Picks and Predictions

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Carla Esparza and Zhang Weili face off on Saturday for the women’s strawweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Esparza is currently the title holder while Weili is ranked second. 

Carla Esparza comes into this fight with a 20-6 record overall and she has won six fights in a row. Esparza’s last fight came against Rose Namajunas for the title and she won by split decision. Neither fighter did a whole lot of anything in the fight, and she was outstruck 37-30, but still won. Two fights ago against Yan Xiaonan in May of 2021 it was midway through the second round that she secured the win by knockout. Esparza is averaging 2.20 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 2.59 significant strikes per minute. She wants to get the fight to the ground and is averaging 3.25 takedowns every 15 minutes but is only successful on 35 percent of her takedown attempts. She also stops 47 of the opponent's takedown attempts. 

On the other side of this matchup is Zhang Weili who sits with a 22-3 record overall but she has lost two of her last three games. Her last fight came against Joanna Jedrejczyk in June of 2022 and it was midway through the second round that she won the fight by a spinning back fist. She was outstriking her 69-43 and she also had three takedowns when she finished the fight. She is averaging 5.78 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 4.26 significant strikes per minute. She is averaging 2.09 takedowns every 15 minutes and is successful on 34 percent of her takedown attempts. She also stops 60 percent of her opponent's takedown attempts. 

Esparaza is currently the champion but that is going to change here. She is going to struggle against the pressure of Weili and that is going to be the difference here as Weili is going to get back her title. Look for Weili to land some big punches and Esparza is going to have no answer. Back Weili by the finish.

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a PickDawgz site consensus.

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