Zhang Weili

Magnum

China

Again tops Joanna Jedrzejczyk
StrawweightUFC
June 11, 2022
Zhang defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk via KO (spinning back fist) at 2:28 of Round 2 at UFC 275 on Saturday in Singapore.
ANALYSIS
It's nearly impossible to believe, but this fight was nearly as entertaining as the March 2020 clash which Zhang won via split decision that is widely considered the greatest women's MMA fight in history. The traffic was a bit more one-sided in this one in Zhang's favor. The two women fought to fairly even terms on the feet early on, but Zhang -- who landed just 1-of-8 takedown attempts in the first bout between the two -- flipped the script by blitzing Joanna with her grappling game midway through Round 1. The end result was Zhang spending the majority of the frame in a dominant position and battering Jedrzejczyk with a flurry of elbows. Joanna survived to see Round 2, but a Zhang spinning back fist midway through the frame closed the show, and ultimately, Joanna's career. There is zero doubt Zhang is next in line for another shot at potentially regaining the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship, currently held by Carla Esparza. Zhang will have to be wary of Esparza's stellar wrestling game, but she will enter with a massive speed and power edge on the feet and figures to be a fairly hefty favorite in terms of the Vegas odds. In the meantime, she'll take home one of five $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses awarded on the evening.
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Wants Jedrzejczyk at UFC 275
StrawweightUFC
April 9, 2022
Zhang has agreed to take on Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a strawweight matchup at UFC 275 on June 11 in Singapore, Marc Raimondi of ESPN.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Zhang and Jedrzejczyk fought to a split decision in March of 2020 back when Zhang was champion, and she managed to retain her belt despite losing the final striking battle 186 to 165. After that epic, five-round war that will arguably go down as one of the best women's MMA fights of all-time, Zhang spent over a year on the sidelines before returning to defend her belt against Rose Namajunas in April of 2021. She was knocked out in the first round and then fell again to Rose via split decision the following November. Looking ahead to June, it's unclear if this fight will be three or five rounds considering no title is on the line, so a three-round fight would diminish the fantasy scoring outlook a bit. Nonetheless, these are two high-volume strikers in a fight where the winner will put up a solid score, even in a decision.
Fails in quest to regain title
StrawweightUFC
November 6, 2021
Zhang came up short in her quest to regain the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship on Saturday, falling to Rose Namajunas via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 46-49) at UFC 268 in New York City.
ANALYSIS
As many expected, the gap between the two was minuscule. The 49-46 scorecard in Rose's favor is pretty indefensible. Zhang was considerably more competitive than the first fight between the two this past April when she was knocked out with a head kick in 78 seconds. She made a concerted effort to damage Rose with leg kicks early on, and it paid dividends. Most would have guessed Zhang would be the more explosive fighter on the feet, and she did plenty of damage there, but she also showed a much improved grappling game, connecting on five of ten takedown attempts. Zhang didn't do a ton with her positional advantage, but it gave Namajunas something else to think about. Zhang could have walked away with the decision here and it would have been a perfectly justifiable call. It was that close. It's quite clear at this point these are the two best 115-pound females on the UFC roster, but Zhang is going to have to work her way back to the top of the mountain since she has now lost back-to-back fights to the reigning champion. The good news for the 32-year-old is that the division lacks depth, and she could earn another short in relatively short order if she picks up a couple dominant victories in her next couple bouts.
Gets rematch with Namajunas
StrawweightUFC
August 28, 2021
Weili will fight for the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship versus Rose Namajunas at UFC 268 in November, per MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
The two last fought in April, when Namajunas claimed the strawweight title from Weili, but the latter will now get a chance to win it back just under seven months later. Weili had won 21 straight fights prior to the loss to Namajunas, so Weili will be looking to avoid a losing streak.
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.
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.