At UFC 268, we will see a rematch for the strawweight title. However, it’s not the rematch that a lot of people in the MMA community thought we were going to see. Rose Namajunas (10-4) will defend her title against Zhang Weili (21-2) in November at UFC 268.
These two first met back in April at UFC 261. Namajunas always has a flare for the dramatic when capturing world titles and April was no different. She knocked Weili out with a head kick and stopped her just over a minute into the first round.
The loss snapped a massive winning streak for Weili and it was also her first loss in the UFC. Weili lost her first ever professional MMA fight. After that, she won 21 in a row on her way to becoming the strawweight champion.
She knocked out Jessica Andrade to become the champion and defended successfully in 2020 against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a fight of the year effort. Namajunas was looked at as her biggest challenge in the strawweight division.
However, nobody expected her to lose in the fashion she did at UFC 261. Given how lopsided and quick the fight was, many thought that Weili wouldn’t get an immediate rematch with the champion.
Was Weili the right choice for UFC 268?
When the fight was announced a couple of weeks ago, a lot of UFC fans were confused by the booking. Many believed that Carla Esparza (18-6) would be the next in line for a title shot.
Given the way the first fight with Weili and Namajunas went, most didn’t think an immediate rematch would take place. The UFC had Esparza as the top contender if Namajunas wouldn’t take the fight against Weili in April.
When Namajunas took the fight, Esparza went on to fight Yan Xiaonan and dominated her and got a second round TKO. That dominant performance was a fifth straight win for the former UFC champion.
Given the fact that Esparza was a former champion and holds a win over Namajunas, I figured she’d get the nod. However, the sexier fight in terms of numbers in the eyes of the promotion is the rematch with Weili.
Weili’s run is certainly remarkable, but I do think Esparza should’ve gotten the spot at UFC 268. Despite getting passed over, Esparza was in good spirts posting on her Instagram that she’s “Got next”.