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Will Zhang Weili exact revenge on Rose Namajunas? UFC 268 betting odds and pick

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Both Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili will be stepping into the octagon for the first time since Namajunas upset Zhang as a +170 underdog to claim the UFC strawweight belt for the second time in her career. While some felt Carla Esparza might be more deserving of this title shot before Zhang, the UFC has decided it made more sense to run it back seven months after their first meeting. Here we discuss the odds and analysis from a betting perspective.

  • When: Saturday, November 6th, 2021 at 7:00pm PT (ESPN PPV)
  • Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
  • Line: Namajunas (-105) and Zhang (-115); odds from Draftkings Sportsbook

Zhang Weili

Zhang “Magnum” Weili is hoping that training with Henry Cejudo will help her gain an edge after getting slept by Namajunas’s clean, left roundhouse kick to the chin in the first round at UFC 261.

Zhang averages 6.36 significant strikes landed per minute (SLpM) with a 45 percent striking accuracy, 4.42 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) with 53 percent striking defense, 1.24 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 23 percent takedown accuracy, 100 percent takedown defense and 0.5 submissions per 15 minutes, according to UFC Stats.

Before her lone professional loss to Namajunas, Zhang was undefeated in the UFC including victories over Joanna Jedrzejczyk (SD, 2020), Jessica Andrade (TKO Rd1, 2019), Tecia Torres (UD, 2019), Jessica Aguilar (sub Rd1, 2018) and Danielle Taylor (UD, 2018).

Rose Namajunas

“Thug” Rose Namajunas may have already cemented her legacy as one of the greatest women’s strawweights of all time, but defending her title for the second time in a rematch might elevate her status to being considered one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Thug is three years younger, has a one-inch height advantage and two-inch reach advantage over Zhang, averaging 4.13 strikes (significant) landed per minute (SLpM) with a 40 percent striking accuracy, 3.99 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) with 60 percent striking defense, 1.89 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 53 percent takedown accuracy, 90 percent takedown defense and 0.1 submissions per 15 minutes, according to UFC Stats.

Prior to her upset of Zhang, Namajunas had won four of five including a win (SD, 2020) that avenged a loss to Andrade (TKO Rd, 2019), and two wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UD, 2018 and TKO Rd1, 2017) and a finish overĀ  Michelle Waterson (sub Rd2, 2017).

Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili Narratives

Rose Namajunas has displayed the technical skills to beat most of the top fighters in her division and the resiliency to avenge some of her biggest losses. She is the younger, longer, more experienced fighter with better defense, higher level kicking and wrestling, and there is no reason to believe that Namajunas won’t go back to back in a championship rematch like she did against Jedrzejczyk after winning the title the first time.

Zhang backers expect her to have learned from her first UFC loss and first by knockout. While some think Zhang’s head might not be right after getting booed and knocked out for the first time at UFC 261, those who have faith in Zhang’s mettle see her move to train with Cejudo as a commitment to taking her game to another level and addressing her deficiencies under the tutelage of an Olympic and two-weight-division UFC champion. Check out the MMASucka podcast where the guys breakdown the co-main event of UFC 268 in detail here:

Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili Prediction

It’s difficult to pick a winner with such evenly matched and skilled opponents. Namajunas has proven that she has the skill and wisdom to beat anyone in her division on any given day. Zhang has higher output but can sometimes get a bit wild during her flurries, leaving herself open to getting hit.

Prior to her first UFC loss, Zhang had developed the perception as a tireless machine forged in the unrelenting work ethic we might associate with China, and while Namajunas beat Zhang fair and square, she might have caught an overly confident Zhang who may have been buying into her hype.

There is little doubt that Zhang was brought down to earth after the loss and the outcome of this fight might depend on how she responds to adversity since we have already witnessed Namajunas’s resiliency.

One aspect of this situation is clear: the UFC seems motivated to build up its presence in China and amongst Chinese fans. Many believe that this motivation led to Zhang getting the rematch before Esparza got her shot, hosting Fight Nights in China, the development of the UFC Performance Institute Shanghai and the steady increase in fighters from China.

Namajunas caught and finished Jedrzejczyk in the first round to win the belt but went all five rounds in their rematch, winning that fight, despite being outstruck 105-145. Namajunas caught and finished Zhang in the first round to win the belt, and if there’s anything we are confident about it’s that Zhang has done everything in her power to not be overconfident and get caught again in the first round.

We expect Zhang to have tightened up her striking defense and do not see her getting finished, and if she does not get finished, we see this contest going the distance. If this contest goes the distance, Zhang will outstrike Namajunas. Knowing how motivated the UFC is to build up its presence in China, do you see Zhang losing if she lands more strikes on Namajunas over five rounds?

Pick: Zhang Weili (-115)

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