Was Zhang Weili the right choice for UFC 268?

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”.

UFC announces Rose Namajunas – Zhang Weili 2

One of the biggest women’s fights of the year will get a part two. Tonight at UFC Vegas 35, the promotion announced that we will see a strawweight title rematch in November at UFC 268 as Rose Namajunas (10-4) will defend her title against Zhang Weili (21-2).

These two ladies first fought back in April at UFC 261. The card was the first PPV card with a full crowd and their first fight was one of the most highly anticipated female fights in the promotion’s history.

Zhang Weili looked like she was going to reign over the strawweight division for a long time. The first UFC champion born in China had dominated virtually every opponent that stood in her way on her way to capturing the title.

She won the Fight of The Year in 2020 when she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first title defense. However, UFC 261 was going to be her toughest fight to date. Many had looked at Rose Namajunas as the best in the world when she was truly focused on fighting.

Well, Namajunas was focused at UFC 261. Zhang Weili was just feeling out the fight in the opening 90 seconds when she was met with a brutal head kick that put her out. Namajunas became the first woman to regain a UFC title after losing it.

Second UFC reign for Namajunas

The journey of Rose Namajunas has been something to see inside the UFC. Namajunas was first introduced via The Ultimate Fighter when the promotion held the show to crown a 115 pound champion.

While Namajunas was looked at as a favorite, she lost in the finals to Carla Esparza. Following that loss, Namajunas focused on improving and she gradually rose to the top of the UFC’s strawweight division.

She pulled off a massive upset when she knocked out and dethroned Joanna Jedrzejczyk to become the strawweight champion. She proved she was the best by beating Jedrzejczyk in an immediate rematch.

Namajunas finds herself in virtually the same position now. She knocked out Zhang Weili at UFC 261 and now she’s fighting her in an immediate rematch. It’ll be interesting to see if history repeats itself in November.

UFC: Joanna Jedrzejczyk says either herself or Zhang Weili should be next for Namajunas

Former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) is working hard to prepare for her octagon return. The former champion hasn’t fought since March of 2020 when she lost a split decision to Zhang Weili (21-2).

The two women had a war at UFC 248 and Jedrzejczyk came up just short in her attempt to regain the strawweight title. After dominating the 115 pound division and defending her title five times, Jedrzejczyk is now 0-4 in her last four title fights.

That said, Jedrzejczyk has still only lost in title fights in her entire career. She’s lost twice to the current strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (10-4), she lost to Valentina Shevchenko at flyweight, and she lost to Weili.

The only three women to defeat her in her career are at the very top of the sport. Jedrzejczyk has been very vocal that she wanted another UFC title shot upon her return to the octagon. The former champion wants to get a third crack at Rose Namajunas.

However, it’s not the easiest of sells when she’s just 2-4 in her last six fights. That said, you can easily say that Jedrzejczyk is still one of the very best fighters in the UFC.

On paper, it appears that Carla Esparza (18-6) should get the next UFC title shot. She’s won five fights in a row and she holds a victory over Namajunas. However, Jedrzejczyk doesn’t believe that Esparza is deserving of the next shot at the champion.

Who should get the next UFC title shot?

In an interview with The Schmo this weekend, Jedrzejczyk said that she believes either herself or Zhang Weili should be next for Namajunas. While she acknowledged the winning streak of Esparza, she said she didn’t believe it was the right fight to make.

From a business perspective, the former UFC champion is correct. If you were to line up the three leading contenders, the least sexy fight is the rematch between Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas.

Despite the fact that Esparza is the only one of the three to hold a victory over Namajunas, there’s significantly less interest from the fans. Ultimately, this is going to come down to what the UFC prioritizes.

I do not believe that Jedrzejczyk is getting the next shot at the title. However, I do believe she will fight the other contender who doesn’t get the shot. With that, the next shot will either go to Zhang Weili or Carla Esparza.

If I had to guess, I think the UFC would prefer to put Weili in that title fight. However, I think Namajunas is the type of champion who would want to give it to the deserving contender. It’ll be an interesting storyline to follow over the coming weeks.

Rose Namajunas next opponent still not clear after UFC Vegas 27

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 27, Carla Esparza (18-6) took on Yan Xiaonan (13-2, 1 NC). Many people were thinking that the winner would likely get the next crack at the UFC strawweight title.

Xiaonan had the most hype coming into the matchup. She was a perfect 6-0 in the UFC and none of her fights had really been that close. Carla Esparza is a former UFC strawweight champion, but she often gets overlooked by everyone.

Esparza was the first strawweight champion for the promotion when she defeated Rose Namajunas (10-4) back in 2014. However, the reign was short lived as Esparza was destroyed by Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first title defense.

Since then, Esparza has gone 8-3 in the UFC, but a few of those wins were razor close split decisions. Heading into UFC Vegas 27, Esparza had won four fights in a row, but she needed a signature win to get in the title conversation.

Well, Esparza completely dominated Xiaonan at UFC Vegas 27. Xiaonan had no answer for the wrestling of Esparza and Esparza battered her on the ground. Ultimately, she picked up the second round TKO victory on Saturday night.

Next UFC title challenger still not clear

After her dominant win, Esparza made her case in her post-fight interview that she deserves the next shot at Rose Namajunas. Esparza holds a victory over the current UFC champion and now she’s won five fights in a row.

Dana White was interviewed after the event where he was asked about Namajunas’ next challenger. I was expecting him to come out and say that they will likely be doing Namajunas – Esparza 2 next.

However, that’s not what Dana White said. White indicated that the rematch with Esparza is definitely an option, but so is the rematch with Zhang Weili (21-2). Weili was the strawweight champion who was just knocked out by Namajunas last month.

She is really pushing for the immediate rematch with Namajunas and the UFC is seriously weighing that as an option. In reality, Esparza has earned the next shot at the champion. However, we know that sometimes the UFC will favor the bigger fight.

Despite the one-sided nature of the title fight at UFC 261, the Namajunas – Weili rematch is likely bigger business. While Esparza definitely deserves the shot, I’m not certain she’s going to get it. This will definitely be something to watch over the coming weeks.

After losing the title at UFC 261, what’s next for Zhang Weili?

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.

After regaining the title at UFC 261, what’s next for Rose Namajunas?

In the co-main event of UFC 261, we saw the strawweight title fight that the world had been waiting to see. Zhang Weili (21-2) was set to defend her title against the former champion Rose Namajunas (10-4).

“Thug” Rose has been through a lot over the past few years. The former UFC champion went to the top of the sport and shocked the world at UFC 217 when she defeated the long reigning champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Immediately, the two strawweights ran things back and Namajunas again got the better of Joanna. There was no doubting that Rose Namajunas was the best strawweight in the UFC.

However, outside the cage, Thug Rose was struggling. The anxiety and pressure of being the champion was weighing heavy on her. At UFC 237, Namajunas lost her title when she got knocked out by a slam by Jessica Andrade.

Most champions would be extremely upset, but Namajunas seemed relieved more than anything. In fact, she contemplated having UFC 237 be her last fight. However, having the time to regroup, Thug Rose found her passion and fire for fighting again.

After some time away, she returned last year and avenged her loss to Jessica Andrade. That led her to UFC 261 where she took on Weili. Before the fight, a focused Namajunas could be heard saying ‘I’m the best’ during the introductions.

Early on at UFC 261, Namajunas looked light on her feet. She looked like the same Thug Rose that won the title back in 2017 and we ended up seeing the same result. A beautiful head kick came just over a minute into the first round that put Weili out and Thug Rose regained the UFC strawweight title.

What’s next after UFC 261?

This is truly such a remarkable story and UFC 261 wasn’t the end of it, it was just the end of a chapter. Now, we are going to see the second reign of Namajunas over the strawweight division.

With that being said, what’s next? Well, the UFC could always run things back with Zhang Weili. Weili looked like she was going to be extremely difficult for anyone to beat at 115 pounds, but got caught with the perfect shot early in the fight.

Because of the nature of the fight, I could see the promotion running it back. However, I’m not sure they will. If not, the fight to look to would be the Carla Esparza (17-6) and Yan Xiaonan (13-1, 1 NC) matchup that takes place next month.

These two UFC strawweights both have winning streaks of at least four heading into the fight. Whoever wins that matchup could be next in line for the UFC champion. Namajunas has history with Esparza that dates back to their first official fight in the UFC.

Esparza defeated Namajunas in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter to become the strawweight champion. Xiaonan is the surging contender from China who has gone 6-0 since joining the UFC. If she gets to 7-0, it would be hard to deny her a shot at Thug Rose.

Rose Namajunas knocks Zhang Weili out at UFC 261

In the co-main event of UFC 261, the strawweight title was on the line. Undisputed champion Zhang Weili (21-1) was set to defend her title against the former champion Rose Namajunas (9-4). In the UFC‘s most stacked female division, these two are the best of the best.

Zhang Weili has been dominant since she joined the UFC just a couple of years ago. She rose right to the top and won the strawweight title with a knockout win over Jessica Andrade. Andrade was the one who took away the strawweight title from Rose Namajunas.

Namajunas battled issues outside the cage over the last few years. At one point, Namajunas wasn’t sure whether or not she wanted to continue to fight in the UFC. In fact, she said it was almost a relief when she lost the title to Andrade.

However, she’s found that fire again. Last year, she avenged her loss to Jessica Andrade to earn that shot at Weili. Weili hasn’t fought in almost a year, but the UFC strawweight champion was looking to show the world that she’s without a doubt the best at 115 pounds.

UFC 261 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 261 co-main event kicked off with no touch of the gloves as Namajunas was all business. Weili plots forward and starts the striking with a leg kick. Both ladies exchange big jabs and Weili follows with a nice leg kick. Good jab lands for the former champion.

Another good leg kick lands for the UFC strawweight champion. A massive headkick lands for Namajunas and this one is over. Thug Rose is the strawweight champion once again!

Rose Namajunas def. Zhang Weili by KO – Round 1

UFC 261 Preview: Zhang Weili – Rose Namajunas

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 261, we are going to see the strawweight title fight that the world has been waiting for. Undisputed strawweight champion Zhang Weili (21-1) will defend her title against the former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (9-4).

Zhang Weili made her UFC debut back in 2018. She immediately won three fights in a row and the promotion saw a ton of potential in her. The UFC has been trying to grow their Chinese presence and they saw Weili as the perfect fighter to assist with that.

Despite only being sixth in the rankings, the UFC had Weili challenge for the title against Jessica Andrade in China. Andrade was the betting favorite, but that night, Weili wasn’t going to be denied. A huge flurry in the first round stopped Andrade and won Weili the title.

After that win, Weili went on to defend her title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the 2020 fight of the year. Weili took the title from Jessica Andrade while Andrade took the title away from Rose Namajunas. A few years ago, Namajunas looked like she was going to be the next dominant female UFC champion.

She had two wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk and she looked like she was primed for a run. However, she was dealing with a lot of issues outside the cage and it impacted her. Andrade finished her to take her title. However, at UFC 251 a newly motivated Rose Namajunas got that win back against Andrade.

UFC 261 Prediction

This UFC 261 co-main event might steal the show tomorrow night. I’m so pumped for this fight and I believe we are seeing the two best strawweights in the world go at it. When it comes to the overall game, I have to say that I like Rose Namajunas.

Her striking technique is incredibly slick. She’s also got great skills on the ground and she’s always threatening with submissions. Overall technique and diversity in skillset go to the former champion. However, there is just something truly special about Zhang Weili.

Her striking is very good and there is no doubting the fact that she has the strength and power advantage. While Rose Namajunas is ultra talented, there’s something in me that can’t bet against the current UFC champion. I think we are in for another war, but I think Weili is going to do more damage which will win her a razor close decision.

Prediction: Zhang Weili by Split Decision

UFC officially books Zhang Weili – Rose Namajunas

The UFC has finalized one of the more anticipated women’s title fights of 2021. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was the first to report that the promotion has verbal agreements in place for the strawweight title fight between Zhang Weili (21-1) and Rose Namajunas (9-4).

The matchup will take place at UFC 261 on April 24th. The title fight is the second women’s title fight on the card. This week we learned that the promotion had also finalized the title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade. 

While this was always the fight to make, it wasn’t the easiest road getting here. Rose Namajunas is the clear number one contender in the strawweight division. She solidified her spot when she got redemption against Jessica Andrade at UFC 251.

However, Dana White came out and said that he wasn’t sure if Namajunas wanted the fight. The promotion had actually kicked the tires on moving on from this matchup, but ultimately the fight got done.

Namajunas is a former UFC strawweight champion and her reign was cut short by a Jessica Andrade slam. That was her only loss since 2016 and she’s already avenged that loss. She is clearly the second best fighter in the strawweight division right now.

UFC’s new superstar

Over the last couple of years, Zhang Weili has taken the UFC by storm. In August of 2019, Weili finished Jessica Andrade in the first round to become the strawweight champion. She is the first UFC champion from China and she won the title in China.

From there, Weili had the Fight of the Year in 2020 against the former long-time champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Weili was pushed to the absolute limit, but in the end, she was able to win a split decision to retain her UFC strawweight title.

Being on this card to me isn’t a coincidence. Dana White has publicly said that he wouldn’t mind seeing Weili move up to 125 pounds to challenge Valentina Shevchenko should she beat Rose Namajunas. I believe the UFC is putting these two title fights together hoping a superfight materializes.

This fight should be incredible given the skillsets of both of these ladies. Namajunas looked like she was poised to be the champion for a long time before that Andrade slam. Now, it’s hard to imagine anyone beating Weili at 115 pounds. This should be a good one on April 24th.

UFC: Rose Namajunas on finding the love again for MMA; “This is what I love to do… I’m a martial artist”

The last year few years have been eventful for the former UFC strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas (8-4). After suffering some early setbacks in her career, she shocked the world by knocking out Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 to win the title. She cemented her status after defeating Jedrzejczyk a second time at UFC 223. However, Namajunas fell on tough times following that fight.

The week of UFC 223, Conor McGregor’s infamous bus attack occurred. Namajunas was on the bus, and she was visibly shaken by the event. Following her win that weekend, she stepped away from the sport for a year. She was struggling with a few things, and she was struggling to find the passion for the sport. She returned at UFC 237 against Jessica Andrade (20-7). After dominating early, Namajunas was knocked out by a vicious slam.

It was unclear if Namajunas would fight again after that loss. Conventional wisdom would say that of course a former champion entering her prime would fight again, but Namajunas was struggling to love the sport that she was so great at. However, recently she found the spark again, and she told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani all about it.

Coming back for her UFC title

“This is what I love to do…I’m a martial artist.” Namajunas told Helwani. While she said she doesn’t miss what she went through as champion, she stated that she did miss having the title. Realistically a win at UFC 251 puts her in line to fight champion Weili Zhang (21-1). When asked about the current champ, Namajunas only had the highest of praise.

“I’d love to fight her one day. She’s a true martial artist…Like, she’s the sh*t,” Namajunas told Helwani. I really believe that Namajunas is a better fighter than Jessica Andrade. No disrespect to Andrade, but she was getting absolutely dominated before that slam knockout. If that slam doesn’t occur, I don’t think Andrade would have lasted the entire fight.

When she returns, I’m expecting big things from Namajunas at UFC 251. I think when she’s mentally on, it’s hard to bet against her. I think she’s got all the advantages against Andrade outside of pure strength. A motivated Namajunas is a dangerous woman, I think she’s going to show her greatness on Fight Island this July. If she takes care of business, I can’t wait for the potential fight between her and the champion, Zhang.