Zhang Weili
Magnum

China

Drops UFC strawweight title
StrawweightUFC
April 24, 2021
Zhang lost her UFC Women's Strawweight Championship on Saturday, falling to Rose Namajunas via KO (strikes) at 1:18 of Round 1 at UFC 261 in Jacksonville.
ANALYSIS
Zhang ate 196 total strikes from Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her last title defense, but one head kick and a couple token follow-up shots from Rose turned her lights out. Zhang was furious with the stoppage from referee Keith Peterson, but it was clear as day to anyone watching that she was done. The fact Zhang was wobbling all over the place after getting back to her feet reaffirmed Peterson's correct decision. Zhang is clearly one of the best strawweights in the world, but she's an offensive fighter with defensive issues in the stand-up game. Any fighter is going to have difficultly if they can't eat a shot, but it seems like a bigger issue for Zhang than most simply because it's difficult to envision an scenario in which she can win a fight without absorbing plenty of strikes. The defeat is Zhang's first since her pro debut back in November 2013. She had won 21 straight.
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Targeting UFC 261 matchup
StrawweightUFC
February 26, 2021
Weili is being targeted to face Rose Namajunas in a strawweight title defense at UFC 261 on April 24, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
Assuming the two fighters sign a contract for the event, Weili will attempt to defend her 115-pound title in late April. She narrowly retained the title when she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk via split decision at UFC 248 in March of 2020. Namajunas defeated Jessica Andrade via split decision at UFC 251 in July. Namajunas has slight advantages in both height and reach, but Weili is one of the highest-volume strikers in women's strawweight history and is undefeated under the UFC banner.
Next title defense lined up
StrawweightUFC
February 1, 2021
Zhang is being targeted for a mid-to-late April strawweight title defense against Rose Namajunas in Singapore, John Hyon Ko of the South China Morning Post reports.
ANALYSIS
A lot can happen when the UFC tries to schedule an event overseas for 2.5 months down the road in the midst of a global pandemic, so stay tuned for official confirmation from the promotion. Zhang hasn't competed since March of 2020 when she took a split decision from Joanna Jedrzejczyk to retain UFC gold in what was considered by many to be the greatest women's MMA fight of all-time. She'll now turn her focus to Namajunas, who has won four of her last five fights against elite strawweights, most recently avenging the one loss to Jessica Andrade in July. Namajunas will own height and reach advantages, in addition to a slight edge in takedown volume. Zhang, however, has never been taken down, plus is one of the highest-volume strikers in women's strawweight history. Should this fight eventually be made, it certainly has headliner potential.
Digs deep to retain UFC gold
StrawweightUFC
March 7, 2020
Zhang barely retained her UFC Women's Strawweight Championship on Saturday, defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) at UFC 248 in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
Let's just say Zhang's first title defense was a lot more work than her 42-second knockout win over Jessica Andrade last August where she won the belt. This was a back-and-forth war in which both women generated plenty of offense. Blessed with a significant advantage in the power department, Zhang literally rearranged Joanna's face with some of her strikes. Her cardio appeared to be slipping in Rounds 3 and 4 before she found her second wind in the final frame. While this was primarily a kickboxing match, Zhang was credited with eight takedown attempts. She landed just one of them and did nothing was her positional advantage. Zhang absorbed plenty of shots from Joanna -- many to her legs -- and ate them all without issue. Zhang's offense arsenal is evident but it was nice to see her dig deep and show she can win a fight when her opponent is pressuring her. The UFC might look into booking an immediate rematch between the two considering this was arguably the greatest fight in women's mixed martial arts history. Both women saw their stock soar following this performance but Zhang is the one who left T-Mobile arena with the gold. If nothing else, she showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that her win over Andrade was the furthest thing from a fluke.
Favored over former strawweight queen
StrawweightUFC
March 2, 2020
Zhang is approximately a (-185) betting favorite for her first title defense against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
Zhang has stormed the UFC gates, winning three consecutive bouts before overwhelming Jessica Andrade in her native China to take home UFC gold and become the first Chinese champion under the UFC banner. She'll draw her toughest test to date in terms of skill and experience, however, as Jedrzejczyk has five successful title defense to her name as the original strawweight queen. Jedrzejczyk will also hold height and reach advantages of Zhang, though Zhang seems to have the edge in terms of raw power. We've seen Joanna get knocked out before in her first-round loss to Rosa Namajunas in November of 2017, so it's possible that if Zhang connects, it could be an early evening. Should this end up a five-round kickboxing match -- which is possible considering neither woman has shown much desire to grapple -- it will be very challenging for Zhang to outpoint a fighter as experienced in five-round affairs as Jedrzejczyk.
Set to defend title at 248
StrawweightUFC
December 2, 2019
Zhang is expected to defend her strawweight title against Joanna Jedrzejcyzk at UFC 248 on March 7, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Undefeated since her debut loss that came outside the UFC in 2013, Zhang's 42-second TKO victory over Jessica Andrade marked her third professional strawweight title, with her first two arriving in KLF and Top FC. With an 85 percent finish rate, Zhang attacks with a mixed offense, narrowly edging 10 knockouts over seven submission victories. She has two stoppages in four chances with the UFC, and her striking pace of 6.22 significant strikes landed per minutes is slightly better than Jedrzejczyk's mark of 6.18, albeit over a much smaller sample size of lesser fighters. She also profiles as a better wrestler, but it still wouldn't be a surprise to see her enter as a betting underdog against Jedrzejczyk, a former champion in the division with five title defenses to her name.