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UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza provides health update, avoids surgery

Esparza was awaiting results on two MRIs and told she would avoid surgery. 

Carla Esparza received some ‘great news’ recently.

The UFC champion was awaiting results on two MRIs for injuries suffered before her fight against Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 this past May. The results were returned, and Esparza has avoided surgery and could return to the Octagon by the end of the year.

“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,” wrote Esparza. “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,” continued Esparza. “Thank you to the [UFC] for being on top of it, and making sure I get back to [100].”

Waiting for Esparza is Zhang Weili, the No. 2 ranked contender who earned her championship opportunity with a second-round knockout of Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 275 in June. ‘Magnum’ suggested a fight against the ‘Cookie Monster’ at UFC 281 in October, but the champion previously said they would ‘go on her timeline’.

Esparza told Damon Martin of MMA Fighting what her ideal timeline would be for her return.

“Ideally November-December seems fine for me,” said Esparza. “Even if I have to do a little bit of rehab over the next month and not kick up training mode, fight camp style quite yet, at least it will give me time to recover. You talk about my longevity in the sport, and my longevity I would have to say I attribute a lot of that to my willingness to give my injuries recovery time. My rehab, just taking care of my body. You don’t stay in this sport for almost 12, 13 years at the top of it, not caring about maintaining your body and keeping it at optimal performance.”

Esparza is on a six-fight win streak that includes decisions against contenders such as Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez.