Odds format
United States
Share to Facebook
Share to Twitter
Copy Link
Current champion Carla Esparza is back in the octagon in the co-main event of UFC 281 to face off against the former champion Zhang Weili. Can Zhang take back the belt? Ben Rajavuori breaks it down.

Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili Prediction, Pick, Odds: Can Zhang Take the Belt Back at UFC 281?

Current champion Carla Esparza is back in the octagon in the co-main event of UFC 281 to face off against the former champion Zhang Weili. Esparza is coming off a split-decision victory over Rose Namajunas, which won her the belt back since she first held it back in 2015. Can Zhang take the belt back once again?

Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili Start Time and Where to Watch

When: Saturday, November 12, 2022

Time: 10:00 PM EDT

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Where: PPV

Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili Odds

Moneyline: Esparza (+300), Zhang (-340)

Total Rounds: Over 1.5 (-360), Under 1.5 (+270)

Will Fight Go the Distance: Yes (+120), No (-136)

Click here for Esparza vs Weili odds

Error fetching data.

Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili Prediction

Carla Esparza is coming off maybe the most boring title fight of all time. Rose Namajunas looked uncharacteristically off that night and lost the belt for it, but even on an off night for Rose, Carla barely edged her out in a split decision that could've easily been a draw for all intents and purposes. Especially after the last fight, I am not as high on Carla as a champion. However, to her credit, she has been fighting at the top of the division for a while and has been winning. She has a knack for getting the judges' favor most of the time as well, as she has been on the winning side of her last three split decisions.

Esparza is an excellent wrestler, and it is the base of her fighting style. She stands with a wide base and throws lots of feints to keep her opponents guessing. She keeps her hands act as a diversion to shoot in on her opponents, as she is most dangerous once she gets the fight to the ground. However, getting the fight to the ground has been an issue for her at times. She has just a 35% takedown accuracy. Carla landed two takedowns in her fight against Namajunas, which was the edge that ultimately earned her the win, but she missed on nine other attempts to end 2/11 on takedown attempts. Staying off the ground will be the key for her opponent, Zhang Weili.

Zhang Weili first won the belt back in 2019 when she knocked out Jessica Andrade in the first round. She then defended her belt against Joanna Jedrzejczyk successfully. It wasn't until she matched up with Rose Namajunas that things went south. Zhang was on the wrong end of a nasty head kick thrown by Rose in the first round that could've put anyone out. Zhang then got another chance at the belt then lost a much closer fight that went the distance. Now, she is back off a win to try and take the belt back.

Zhang is one of the most powerful hitters in her division. Half of her 22 wins have come by knockout, while seven others have come by submission. Her 81% finish rate is among the highest in the division and makes her an entertaining fighter to watch any time. Zhang is a well-polished striker who lands heavy, and she utilizes feints beautifully. When Zhang closes the distance and gets up against the fence, she has nasty elbows and body shots. Her key to winning this fight will be stopping Carla's takedown attempts and keeping her on her back foot.

Bet $5, Win $200 Extra on your favorite UFC Moneyline now, with this HUGE DraftKings promo code!

Zhang fights with an aggressive style that will likely push Carla back for most of this fight, except when Esparza decides to shoot. If Zhang can stop her takedowns, she will win this fight by a mile. Zhang averages 5.78 significant strikes per minute, while Esparza only lands 2.2. Zhang also hits much harder and switches up her combos frequently, attacking the legs, body, and head equally. Esparza has been at the top for a long time, and she is now 35. Zhang is the younger and arguably stronger fighter who is capable of winning rounds based on her damage alone. I expect Zhang to land cleanly on Esparza in this fight and knock Esparza out. Esparza has only lost three times in the UFC, but two of those three losses were by knockout. I think we will hear "and new" tomorrow night in the co-main event.

Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili Pick

Pick: Zhang Weili by KO/TKO @ +125. Bet $100 to collect $225.

Error fetching data.

Article Author


Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.


Almost there!

We are loading your bets, and they will be here in a second.