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Carla Esparza Returns To Face Juliana Lima At UFC 197

Brazil’s Juliana Lima is no longer opponent-less for her UFC 197 main card fight as the UFC’s very first women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza will step in to face her.

The bout was first reported by Brett Okamoto over at ESPN.

Lima’s original opponent Jessica Aguilar was forced to withdraw from the bout due to a serious knee injury.

Lima has won two straight fights, however, she hasn’t fought since beating Ericka Almeida at last May’s UFC Fight Night 67 event. Prior to the winning streak, she was defeated in her UFC debut against current women’s strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2014.

Esparza might be returning sooner than she expected as she recently expressed her desire to return at UFC 199 in June.

Like Lima, Esparza also has a loss against Jedrzejczyk, coming in her last fight all the way back in March 2015 at UFC 185. following the loss, Esparza had shoulder surgery which sidelined her the rest of 2015.

The loss to Jedrzejczyk cost Esparza the strawweight title she won on the The Ultimate Fighter season 20 as well as snapped a 5 fight winning streak she had, which included wins over Felice Herrig, Bec Rawlings and Rose Namajunas.

UFC 197 takes place on April 23, 2016 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card will air live on PPV with the prelims being broadcast on both UFC FightPass and Fox Sports 1.