Joanna Jedrzejczyk: ‘Strong’ Zhang Weili will knock out Carla Esparza in first round

SINGAPORE – Joanna Jedrzejczyk sees Zhang Weili easily dethroning UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza.

Jedrzejczyk (16-5 MMA, 10-5 UFC) was on the receiving end of a spinning backfist knockout courtesy of Weili on Saturday’s UFC 275 main card and announced her retirement right after the fight. It was the second straight time Jedrzejczyk lost to Weili after the pair engaged in a “Fight of the Year” brawl at UFC 248.

With the win, Weili (22-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is expected to face newly crowned 115-pound champ Esparza (19-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC), whose first title reign quickly came to an end at the hands of Jedrzejczyk in 2015.

“First round for Weili Zhang,” Jedrzejczyk told reporters at the UFC 275 post-fight press conference. “She’s so strong. Yeah, first round. She really surprised me with her strength because we know she’s a striker, but she was very strong on the ground. (She did) very beautiful work. So it’s going to be a very interesting fight, but I truly believe Weili is going to be becoming the champ, and I feel like Rose is next in line again. It’s the beauty of this sport.”

Prior to knocking Jedrzejczyk out in the second round, Weili displayed much improved wrestling by dominating her on the ground. Standout wrestler Esparza was able to squeak past Rose Namajunas to recapture the strawweight title at UFC 274 and Weili is hoping the pair can square off in Abu Dhabi’s UFC 281 pay-per-view event on Oct. 22.

X