These two are having an immediate rematch after their first fight back at UFC 261 in April. That night, Namajunas was able to shock the world and became the strawweight champion for the second time. That win snapped a 21-fight winning streak from Zhang Weili.
The win was also Namajunas’ fifth win in her last six fights. The champion’s struggles have never been from a physical standpoint, they’ve always been from a mental standpoint. When Namajunas is in the right frame of mind, she’s proven that she’s the best strawweight in the UFC.
That said, Zhang Weili is going to try and prove that her loss to Namajunas in April was a fluke. Namajunas caught Weili flush with a head kick very early in the first round. We never really got to see these two really go at it. We were hoping to see a battle at UFC 268
UFC 268 Recap
The UFC 268 co-main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Namajunas immediately takes the center and starts with a little pressure. Weili lands the first strike of the night with a low kick. Another powerful leg kick from Weili.
Weili really targeting the lead leg of Thug Rose in the opening minute. Namajunas appears to be just gauging the range here early on as she eats another leg kick. Thug Rose steps forward and lands clean with her first combination. Nice jab from the champion.
Another really good combination from Namajunas lands. Weili lands a big leg kick and then gets a body lock. Namajunas defends well at first, but Weili gets her to the ground and lands the takedown. Halfway through the round and Namajunas is looking for submissions off her back.
Thug Rose attacking with her legs but she eats some good shots from Weili. Weili settles into the guard but Namajunas forces a scramble and they’re back to striking. Namajunas immediately pushes forward with pressure.
Good leg kick and a combination from Weili. The two come together and they both land decent shots. Another good low kick lands for Weili. The round comes to a close and the first round at UFC 268 goes to the former champion.
Entering the second at UFC 268 and the first round is about what I expected from the first fight. Namajunas immediately takes the center to start the second but she eats a big leg kick from Weili. Lots of movement on the outside from Weili.
Good lead left hand lands for Weili and Namajunas steps forward with a nice combination to counter. Big jab lands for Thug Rose and she looks for a head kick. This is a very tactical battle here in the second round. Weili steps forward and lands a huge combination.
However, Namajunas counters back with a big combination of her own. Both step forward with massive rights that just miss. Big leg kick for Weili lands but Namajunas lands a nice counter left hook. Inside leg kick from Weili and Namajunas counters again.
Another leg kick from Weili but Namajunas lands one of her own on the counter. Big left hand from Weili and Namajunas stumbles backwards. Namajunas goes for a head kick but Weili catches and takes Namajunas to the ground.
Huge ground and pound from Weili here. Namajunas scrambles again and they’re back to striking. Big straight right lands for Namajunas and the two come together in a clinch. Weili tries for a takedown but Namajunas ends up getting one. The round comes to an end but I still give the round to the former UFC champion.
Entering the third at UFC 268 and this fight is razor close. Namajunas again goes right to the center and opens with a head kick. Powerful low kick from Weili. Weili looks a little tired here at the start of the third round.
Namajunas lands a beautiful right straight. They trade low kicks but they are fighting at Namajunas’ range. Low kick from Weili and Namajunas tries to change but nothing lands. Wild shot misses badly from Weili and Namajunas lands a really nice leg kick counter.
Big overhand right for Namajunas who is looking really good here. Just when I say that, Weili lands a big leg kick and a body kick behind it. Namajunas blitzes and they both miss big. The two come together and throw big shots
Weili slips and the two clinch against the fence. Good shots in the clinch for Namajunas and they break. Powerful leg kick from Weili finds it’s home. Weili steps forward but eats a huge combination. Leg kick and a big combination from Weili hurts Namajunas.
Weili shoots for and gets a takedown. Namajunas forces a few scrambles but Weili ends up in the mount to finish the round. Very close round at UFC 268 and Weili might’ve stolen it in that final minute.
Entering the fourth at UFC 268 and Namajunas really needs to turn things around. Namajunas steps forward but eats a 1-2 from Weili. Huge right hand down the middle lands for Weili. However, Namajunas lands a big right hand counter.
Another huge right hand from Namajunas lands. The right hand is fighting it’s home at will here for Namajunas in the fourth round. Stinging low kick lands for Weili and Weili grabs a clinch. Weili spins to the back and takes Namajunas to the ground.
Namajunas is trying to defend but Weili takes her back. The champion is trying to spin and Namajunas ends up on top halfway through the round. Namajunas steps over into half guard. Weili forces a scramble but Namajunas stays on top.
Good shots from the top from Namajunas. Another good shot from the top lands for Namajunas. Weili continues to try and get separation but Namajunas is doing a very good job of controlling her here as we enter the final minute.
Namajunas settles into the guard and continues to look for elbows. Nothing big comes of the final thirty seconds and this round goes to the champion. I have it 3-1 Weili at UFC 268.
Entering the final round at UFC 268 and this fight is as close as it gets. Both trade kicks to start the final frame. Weili steps forward with a big shot but Namajunas counters with a big shot. Namajunas looks more fresh here in the final frame.
Nice right straight for Namajunas. Thug Rose steps forward and lands a big takedown just a minute into the round. Weili trying to force a scramble but Namajunas is doing a beautiful job of controlling the top here.
Big right hand for Namajunas and the champion is pulling it out here in the fifth round. Good elbow from the champion and Weili is fading badly as she’s just laying on her back here. Another good right hand lands for Namajunas.
Weili trying to get some separation but can’t do much. Namajunas is too good here with her top pressure. Under a minute left and there’s no doubt about this fifth round. It’s all Namajunas and she might be pulling this fight out here.
Namajunas stands up but comes right back into the guard with a big straight left. The fight comes to a close and Namajunas easily wins the fifth round. I have it 3-2 Weili but I think Namajunas will get the nod.
Rose Namajunas def. Zhang Weili by Split Decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)