Carla Esparza avoids surgery, gives timeline for UFC title defense: ‘A little more time to heal’

Carla Esparza has lucked out.

According to an Instagram post Thursday by the UFC women’s strawweight champion, Esparza (19-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) won’t need surgery to repair either of her two undisclosed injuries after recent MRIs. She also added she’ll likely compete by the end of the calendar year, pending successful rehab and recovery.

“Health update: I just saw my doctor in regards to my 2 MRI results yesterday, and the great news is, no surgeries required on either location!” Esparza wrote. “I simply require a little more time to heal, PRP injections(already scheduled), and a little physical therapy and I should be back to 100% to start camp and fight before this year is done. I have a very tough fight and camp ahead of me, and I look forward to giving it my all. In the meantime, look forward to some modified training. Thank you to the @UFC for being on top of it, and making sure I get back to 100.”

In June, next-in-line title challenger Zhang Weili called for Esparza to fight her at UFC 281 in October – neutral territory for a China vs. United States matchup. Recently, Esparza told MMA Junkie she didn’t want to rush into a title defense. She wanted to do things right.

“I understand why she would say it,” Esparza said. “It didn’t seem like she took any injuries. She probably wants a fight closer to home. She shot her shot. Unfortunately that’s not a day that works for me, so I’m not stressing or rushing to get back on a day that works for her. I have some injuries that I have to deal with (and) a couple MRIs that I should be getting tomorrow. So, we’ll see after the dust settles what date makes sense for us.”

Esparza, 34, is currently on her second UFC title reign. She defeated Rose Namajunas via unanimous decision for the belt at UFC 274 in May, a title clinch over seven years after she lost the championship to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2015.

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