Carla Esparza will compete for the first time in more than a year when she locks horns with Juliana Lima at UFC 197.
Promotion officials on Tuesday announced Esparza as the replacement for the injured Jessica Aguilar, who was forced to withdraw from the event after tearing her ACL. UFC 197 takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 23 and is headlined by a light heavyweight title rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones.
Esparza hasn’t fought since relinquishing the strawweight title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a brutal defeat at UFC 185 in March 2015. The former Invicta FC titlist earned the UFC strap by besting Rose Namajunas at “The Ultimate Fighter 20” finale in December 2014. The 28-year-old Team Oyama representative is 10-3 as a professional overall, with seven wins inside the distance.
After falling to Jedrzejczyk in her promotional debut, Lima has bounced back with consecutive triumphs over Ericka Almeida and Nina Ansaroff in the Octagon. The 34-year-old Brazilian has compiled an 8-2 career mark since turning pro in 2010.