Following her UFC 275 win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Zhang Weili called out champion Carla Esparza to fight at UFC 281 in Abu Dhabi in October. Esparza rejected that idea in an interview with the New York Post.
“Hey Carla Esparza, I heard there’s an event in Abu Dhabi. I want to invite you to fight me in Abu Dhabi. It’s not your territory. It’s not my territory,” Weili moments after knocking out Jedrzejczyk.
“I want (to) fight with Carla in Abu Dhabi because I know there’s a fight there in October. I think Carla is a special fighter, too, and I know that can be a really good fight. Also, for me and for her – not China or the U.S. So we can fight in another country, so it’s fair for both of us,” Weili reiterated during the UFC 275 Post-fight Press Conference.
Esparza doesn’t believe she needs to accommodate Weili’s timeframe and pointed out who the champion is.
“I definitely don’t feel like I’m in a position where I should rush just because Weili wants a certain date,” Esparza. “I’m not trying to go on her timeline. I’m the champion, and I feel she needs to go on my timeline.”
Esparza won the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight title by defeated Rose Namajunas at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in December 2014. She was defeated in her first title defense by Jedrzejczyk in a fight that she felt rushed to accept.
“That was honestly a big regret of mine, letting the pressure push me into jumping back so quickly after having gone through so much fighting [on] ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ ” Esparza said. “That was my fifth fight in eight months. It’s really draining. That was a big regret of mine, not letting myself recover a little bit and jumping straight back into it because feeling pressured and wanting to make the UFC happy. But in the end, if I’m losing my title, then what was it all worth anyway?”