Joanna Jedrzejczyk isn’t a fan of the vitriol coming Carla Esparza’s way as of late.

The Strawweight title is on the line this weekend (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022) at UFC 281 in Madison Square Garden. Now a two-time champion, Esparza heads into her co-main event title defense opposite Zhang Weili as a sizable underdog.

The buildup to the fight has seen fans aplenty giving Esparza next to no chance and even booed her at UFC 281’s pre-fight press conference yesterday (Weds., Nov. 9, 2022). As a former opponent of Esparza’s, Jedrzjeczyk doesn’t see the critique as fair.

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CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE-DIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to “The Fight Mecca,” Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Sat., Nov. 12, 2022, featuring two highly-anticipated championship showdowns. In UFC 281’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, will look to settle the score with former kickboxing foe and No. 5-seeded contender, Alex Pereira. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV co-main event, women’s Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, intends to defend her newly-won title for the first time against former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Zhang Weili.

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“She’s the champ, she deserves respect and all the attention,” Jędrzejczyk said today (Thurs., Nov. 10, 2022) at a special UFC 281 media day (h/t MMA News). “It’s not only about being the best athlete, it’s about having the best character if fans see charisma in you or not. If I was becoming the strawweight champion for a second time, I would get bigger. I would double the amount of followers, money, contracts, everything. It looks like for Carla Esparza, it’s enough. It’s okay, we have to respect that, but she’s the champ so she deserves all the respect right now.”

Jedrzejczyk won UFC’s Strawweight title against Esparza in March 2015 via second round technical knockout, going on a historic five-title defense run afterward. Dropping the title in Nov. 2017, Jedrzejczyk fought seven more times before calling it a career in June 2022 on the heels of a Zhang Weili second-round spinning-back fist knockout (watch highlights). will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 281 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPNews at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

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