This past Saturday at UFC 261, Zhang Weili (21-2) was set to defend her strawweight title against Rose Namajunas (10-4). Weili has been dominant since she came to the UFC and was the betting favorite heading into Saturday.
I personally thought she was going to be too much for Namajunas. If you go by MMA Math, Weili looked like a tough matchup for Namajunas. We’ve seen Thug Rose struggle against Jessica Andrade.
Andrade knocked Namajunas out with a slam in their first fight and hurt her very badly in their second fight. Now, Namajunas did get the split decision win in the second fight, but it was a really tough fight for Thug Rose.
Weili is just as powerful as Andrade, but she’s more well-rounded. She destroyed Andrade to capture the UFC strawweight title and appeared to have no weaknesses. She’s tough, powerful, and she has incredible technique.
However, on Saturday night, she didn’t have much time to show it. Thug Rose looked better than ever and knocked Weili out in the first round with a beautiful head kick. Weili protested the stoppage, but the stoppage was justified. UFC 261 saw Weili lose for the first time in her UFC career.
What’s next after UFC 261?
After the fight was over, Weili posted on her Instagram that she was hopeful that the UFC would book the rematch. Now, you can make the argument for the rematch considering the way the fight ended.
One big strike and the fight was over quick. No telling how the fight goes if that strike doesn’t land, but at the end of the day it did. On the flip side, you can say that the fight was incredibly one-sided with how quickly Namajunas knocked her out with that kick.
I could definitely see the UFC booking the rematch next. However, if they don’t, there are other options for Weili. The one I like the most is the rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4).
The two former UFC strawweight champions had the fight of the year in 2020. Weili edged Joanna with a split decision win, but the rematch would be incredibly easy to sell. Before UFC 261, Joanna said that she wanted a shot at the winner.
However, with Joanna coming off the Weili loss and having already lost to Namajunas twice, I don’t see it happening. Weili – Joanna is the way to go in my opinion and I really hope the UFC looks at that rematch next to establish the number one contender.