Carla Esparza’s UFC return is now set, as ESPN.com reports that she’ll step in for the injured Jessica Aguilar next month against Juliana Lima at UFC 197.
Esparza became the UFC’s first ever Women’s Strawweight Champion in December of 2014, defeating Rose Namajunas in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 20. She lost that title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first title defense last March, and has been out for a year due to injury.
She said last week she was simply waiting for a matchup, and now she’s got one on just over three weeks notice.
Lima will welcome her back to the cage in Las Vegas hoping to secure a third straight win in the UFC. The 34-year-old Brazilian lost to Jedrzejczyk herself in her UFC debut, but took out Nina Ansaroff and Ericka Almeida by decision in her next two appearances.
UFC 197 airs live on pay-per-view on April 23, and is still expected to be headlined by the Light Heavyweight Title bout between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, despite Jones’ latest run-in with the law this week.
[Photo (c) Tim Heitman via USA Today Sports]
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