With Aguilar out, Carla Esparza steps in to face Juliana Lima at UFC 197

Former UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza is set to return to the octagon for the first time since her devastating loss to now champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Esparza has agreed to step in on short notice to face Juliana Lima at UFC 197.
Josh Hedges|Zuffa LLC|Zuffa LLC

Josh Hedges|Zuffa LLC|Zuffa LLC

MMAFighting.com confirmed an initial report by the Los Angeles Daily News, who broke the story on Tuesday. Esparza (10-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) debuted in the UFC at the Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale where she dominated, and eventually submitted Rose Namajunas to claim the inaugural UFC Women's Strawweight title. Esparza then returned three months later to make the first defence of her title, but was brutalised on the feet and failed to get the fight to the ground against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The fight between Esparza and Jedrzejczyk took place at UFC 185 in March 2015 and Esparza hasn't fought since then after undergoing shoulder surgery midway through 2015. Lima (10-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) debuted in the promotion with a scrap against the aforementioned Joanna Jedrzejczyk but lost the fight via Unanimous Decision. The Brazilian rebounded from the loss with a decision victory over Nina Ansaroff. Most recently, 'Ju Thai' took home a Unanimous Decision victory over Ericka Almeida. UFC 197 takes place live from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 23 and will be headlined by a Light Heavyweight Title match-up between reigning champ Daniel Cormier and former champion Jon Jones.

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