On March 18, news broke that former WSOF women’s strawweight champion Jessica Aguilar was forced to withdraw from her scheduled UFC 197 fight against Juliana Lima due to a knee injury.
On Tuesday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced former strawweight champion Carla Esparza would step in for the injured Aguilar to face Lima on the April 23 fight card.
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Esparza (10-3) won the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight title by defeating Rose Namajunas at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in December 2014. She lost the belt to current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185, and hasn’t fought since. Esparza hopes to show that she’s still a top contender in the division during the short-notice fight.
Lima (8-2) is ranked No. 14 in the women’s 115-pound division. Aguilar sits in the No. 13 spot. With Esparza stepping in on short notice, Lima has the opportunity to take out the second-ranked strawweight. The Brazilian is riding a two-fight winning streak and hopes to extend it to three on April 23.
UFC 197 takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The event is headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between champion Daniel Cormier and former titleholder Jon Jones.
(Photo courtesy of Invicta FC and Esther Lin)
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