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Joanna Jedrzejczyk: ‘Strong’ Zhang Weili KO’s Carla Esparza in first round

Joanna Jedrzejczyk predicts an easy stoppage victory for Weili Zhang over Carla Esparza.

UFC 223: Press Conference
Joanna Jedrzejczyk speaks with fans and media at the UFC 223 pre-fight press conference in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Joanna Jedrzejczyk thinks Weili Zhang will crush Carla Esparza to regain the UFC strawweight title, predicting an easy first-round KO victory for ‘Magnum’.

Jedrzejczyk suffered a highlight-reel spinning backfist KO loss to Zhang at UFC 275 and admitted she was surprised with how strong Zhang was in the clinch.

Zhang’s strength, Jedrzejczyk says, will be the difference-maker against Esparza. The former UFC strawweight champion thinks Esparza will panic when she can’t take Zhang down and get knocked out early.

“First round for Weili Zhang,” Jedrzejczyk, who retired following her loss to Zhang, told reporters at the UFC 275 post-fight press conference (h/t MMA Junkie). “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.”

Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas to capture the strawweight title at UFC 274 and is expected to defend her belt against Zhang at a later date.

‘Cookie Monster’ has made it clear, however, that she will be the one calling the shots and setting a date for her next fight, not Zhang. She told the New York Post earlier this week: “I definitely don’t feel like I’m in a position where I should rush just because Weili wants a certain date. I’m not trying to go on her timeline. I’m the champion, and I feel she needs to go on my timeline.”