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Carla Esparza steps in for Jessica Aguilar, faces Julianna Lima at UFC 197

Esther Lin photo

The inaugural UFC strawweight champion has a date set for her Octagon return.

Carla Esparza will step in for an injured Jessica Aguilar and meet Julianna Lima at UFC 197 in Las Vegas. confirmed an initial report by the Los Angeles Daily News, who broke the story Tuesday.

Esparza (11-3), of Redondo Beach, Calif., won the title in Dec. 2014. She went into The Ultimate Fighter 20 as the reigning Invicta champion and thus the top seed in the season-long tournament to determine the first 115-pound champ, then submitted Rose Namajunas to claim the title.

But she lost the title in one-sided fashion to current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185 last March in Dallas and has not fought since.

Lima (8-2) went the distance in a loss to Jedrzejczyk in both fighters' UFC debut in July 2014 in San Jose, but has rebounded to win her past two fights, most recently a decision over Ericka Almeida on May 30 in her homeland of Brazil.

Aguilar, the former WSOF strawweight champion, pulled out of the fight just over a week ago with a torn ACL.

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