Former UFC champ Carla Esparza announces pregnancy, plans return in 2024

Don’t expect to see former two-time UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza in the octagon any time soon.

After dropping the belt to Zhang Weili at UFC 281 in November, Esparza (19-7 MMA, 10-5 UFC) is taking a lengthy hiatus from active competition to have her first child.

Esparza announced on Saturday that she is 14 weeks pregnant and will be on the sidelines until 2024 (via Instagram):

So we’ve been keeping a little secret for the last 14 weeks… we’re expecting! Baby Cookie Monster 🍪 Grand Entrance September 2023 🥰💙💗💙💗
Excited for this next chapter… and hoping to make my return early to mid 2024😉👊🏽

Esparza, 35, was the inaugural UFC titleholder at 115 pounds, first winning the belt in December 2014. She would quickly lose the strap to Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and would then embark on an eight-year journey that would eventually see her reclaim gold in May 2022 with an upset of Rose Namajunas.

Her second reign was also short lived, as Weili earned a second-round submission win against “The Cookie Monster” in the final fight before her pregnancy hiatus.


Twitter reacts to Zhang Weili's title-winning submission of Carla Esparza at UFC 281

Zhang Weili def. Carla Esparza at UFC 281: Best photos

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie