Boardroom provides the odds, props, and a prediction as Carla Esparza and Zhang Weili co-main event UFC 281 for UFC strawweight gold.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is home to some of the best female fighters walking the planet. The inaugural and current strawweight champion Carla Esparza is set for a five-round title defense against a former champion in Zhang Weili. With both competitors experiencing the height of the 115-pound mountain, whether past or present, this fight encapsulates the journey to MMA’s apex and the unfortunate-yet-inevitable ending for any fighter willing to stick around.
Esparza has faced a who’s-who on her journey back to the championship, once lost against Joanna Jędrzejczyk in 2015. Seven years later, it took a five-fight win streak before “Cookie Monster” could even earn a chance at fighting for a world title. Nonetheless, she capitalized on her opportunity, edging out a split-decision victory over Rose Namajunas at UFC 274.
Split-decision victories have become all too common for Esparza, with seven of her total 25 fights ending in a nail-biter, left in the hands of dubious MMA judging, which has gotten their fair share of final verdicts incorrect in the eyes of fighters, fans, and even UFC President Dana White. Although this time around, Eszpara has voiced this fight camp being the best of her life and is on record stating that she’s “excited to put it all on the line.”
That’s what it’ll take to defeat Weili. If Esparza wants her hand definitively raised, she’ll have to be fearless.
As a former champion in her own right, Weili told media members how excited she is for an opportunity to reclaim the title. Each of her last five fights has been against former strawweight champions. After wars with Jędrzejczyk, Namajunas, and a short dominant performance against Jéssica Andrade, it’s easy to believe why the Chinese warrior is heading into the event with no fear.
“I don’t fear her wrestling or grappling. I don’t fear anything from Carla Esparza,” she told MMA media leading up to the bout.
Whether a fan of Esparza or Weili, expect both fighters to keep their promise of putting on a dominant performance that keeps the judges far away from the final result. Let’s look at the odds and major prop bets for Saturday’s Esparza vs. Weili co-main strawweight banger at UFC 281 courtesy of our friends at FanDuel Sportsbook, plus a big fight prediction.
Esparza vs. Weili Fight Info
UFC 281 — Co-Main Event Strawweight Championship Bout
(C) Carla Esparza (25-6-0, 4 KOs, 4 Submission)
No. 2 Zhang Weili (22-3-0 11 KOs, 7 Submissions)
Date: Saturday, November 12, 2022
Fight Time: The main card begins at 10 p.m. ET
Venue: UFC APEX, Las Vegas, United States
Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili Odds to Win
All UFC 281 odds, lines, and prop bets are available on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Carla Esparza: +285
Zhang Weili: -400
UFC 281 Esparza vs. Weili Prop Bets
Method of Victory
Will the Fight Go the Distance?
Over/Under Total Rounds
OVER 4.5: -116
UNDER 4.5: -110
Esparza vs. Weili Prediction
UFC 281 Esparza vs. Weili prediction percentages courtesy of Tapology Fight Predictions.
- Projected winner: Zhang Weili (92%)
- Projected method of victory: KO/TKO (80%)
The MMA universe expects this match to be a one-sided affair. I have to agree.
Zhang possesses a well-rounded game that strikes fear into the hearts of her opponents once they feel her power. Unfortunately for the rest of the UFC’s strawweight division, “Magnum” has shown tremendous progress in areas where she lacked in her initial UFC showings. After showcasing a powerful physique and an improved wrestling game under the guidance of a UFC champion and Olympian, Henry Cejudo, my prediction isn’t that Weili will win. It’s more along the lines of how long it will take her to finish the job.
Esparza vs. Weili Prediction: Zhang Weili by KO/TKO (+125).
UFC 281 Esparza vs. Weili Betting Trends & Stats
- Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas by split decision in her most recent fight on May 7, 11, 2022.
- Zhang Weili defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk by KO/TKO in her most recent fight on June 11, 2022.
- Esparza averages 2.20 significant strikes landed per minute with a 40% accuracy rate.
- Weili averages 5.78 significant strikes landed per minute with a 47% accuracy rate.
- Esparza averages 2.59 significant strikes absorbed per minute with a 55% defense rate.
- Weili averages 4.26 significant strikes absorbed per minute with a 52% defense rate.
- Esparza has a 47% takedown defense rate.
- Weili has a 60% takedown defense rate.
- LeBron James & the 4-year Brand Battle for His Feet
- San Diego State vs. FAU: Who Are Sportsbooks Backing to Play for the National Title?
- Boardroom’s 2023 Women’s History Month in Review
- The Viral Chef Curry Sneakers Get Retro Roasted for April Fools’ Day
- Black Women in Tech Don’t Owe You Anything