The UFC 261 co-main events sees the current champion, Zhang Weili take on the former champion, Rose Namajunas. In a fight that many predict will be a war of two well rounded mixed-martial artists, the build-up to this one has got a little ugly. Namajunas has made the fight political, suggesting that she wants to beat Zhang for ‘what she stands for’, with regards to communism. Keep politics out of fight sports and focus on the fight itself, because the UFC 261 co-main event is a cracker!
The champion has looked phenomenal since joining the UFC. 21-1 in her career, she’s had just five UFC fights. The first fighter from China to capture a UFC belt, Zhang was able to capture the belt from Jessica Andrade in her fourth UFC bout. Finishing the fight in the first round, ‘Magnum’ made history.
Her next bout also made history. She put on one of the best women’s fights of all time when she faced the former long time champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. At UFC 248 the two put on an all-out war for 25 full minutes. Throwing over 750 total strikes between them, each woman left everything out there and put it all on the line for the gold. Ultimately it was Zhang Weili who got her hand raised via split decision. This fight showed that the champion has what it takes to go into deep waters and still perform, which is exactly what she might need against Namajunas.
The champ has been out of the octagon since that epic war last April so will be glad to be back, taking on Namajunas over five rounds at UFC 261.
With her political motivations ahead of UFC 261 aside, Namajunas has impressed inside the octagon. Yes, she has been gifted a number of title shots. Her first shot, when she became the first person to defeat Jedrzejczyk in MMA came off the back of just one win. She did, however, defend the belt against Jedrzejczyk five months after capturing it.
She then lost to Andrade via slam in her second title defence. She dominated the first round and it was the best we’ve seen ‘Thug Rose’ look, however, she held onto a kimura trap for too long and it ultimately cost her. In the rematch with Andrade, she again started well. She out-landed the Brazillian in both of the first two rounds, constantly stinging her with shots and managing to control the distance well. Her striking looked slick throughout the first ten minutes.
In the third round, however, Namajunas seemed to fade. Andrade out-landed her, bust her up, wobbled her and despite getting a takedown, was reversed easily. If the fight was five rounds, it was certainly shifting in favour of the Brazillian. In her past two fights, Namajunas has been out-landed in the final rounds. The third against Andrade and the third, fourth and fifth against Jedrzejczyk. Is Namajunas a fighter who can go late in a fight? We’ll see at UFC 261.
The UFC have released one of their excellent countdown shows focussing on the UFC 261 co-main event, which can be found here:
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