The UFC on Wednesday announced a strawweight matchup between Gadelha and Esparza set for June 9 in Chicago, Illinois. Gadelha vs. Esparza is the first announced booking for UFC 225.
The two women have long been at odds with one another, dating all the way back to 2013 when they were set to challenge for the inaugural Invicta FC strawweight title. But the matchup never came to fruition — Gadelha first withdrew with a broken nose, then was again forced out of a rescheduled bout after being transported to the hospital the day before the fight. Esparza ultimately vacated her Invicta FC title to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 20, but the two rivals have continued to take shots from afar at one another while underneath the UFC umbrella.
Gadelha (15-3) now looks to rebound after suffering a unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Jessica Andrade at UFC Saitama. A 29-year-old Brazilian veteran, Gadelha is widely regarded as one of the most talented strawweight fighters in the world, owning wins over the likes of Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Cortney Casey, Jessica Aguilar, Ayaka Hamasaki, and Valerie Letourneau.
Esparza (13-4), on the other hand, looks to continue her climb back into the top five of the division with a successful performance at UFC 225. The first-ever UFC strawweight champion, “Cookie Monster” has won three of her four fights since dropping the title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2015. Esparza rides a two-fight win streak into her matchup against Gadelha, having picked up recent unanimous decisions over Maryna Moroz and Cynthia Calvillo.
UFC 225 takes place at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. A main event for the pay-per-view card has yet to be announced.