It’s easy to say afterward that this should have been the main event. Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzecyzyk put on the fight of their lives in a brutal back-and-forth war. Zhang was defending her strawweight belt for the first time against the most successful former champion in the division’s history.
The pair had gone back-and-forth with tensions building between the two. Zhang made everybody watching their pre-fight press conference laugh when she told Joanna to ‘shut up.’ She’s definitely becoming more popular as her English improves and her value to the UFC is massive.
This was a fascinating match-up. Could Jedrzejczyck handle Zhang’s power? How would the UFC’s first Chinese champion deal with the Polish queen’s relentless output? To sum up, Jedrzecyzyk said this would be the greatest women’s title fight of all-time. She wasn’t wrong.
Grab that popcorn. 🍿
— UFC (@ufc) March 8, 2020
From start to finish, this was a vicious battle. Joanna started fast, fighting behind her excellent jab and moving constantly to avoid Weili’s power. Both women let fly with leg kicks in an attempt to slow each other down. In the first and second rounds, Joanna landed more shots but Zhang definitely rattled her with her power.
The third round was where it got very interesting. Weili was wearing damage on her face when she smashed Joanna down the middle, producing an enormous hematoma. The swelling kept rising for the rest of the fight. Weili slowed down as Joanna built but momentum but the Chinese fighter switched to a grappling approach to mix it up.
Zhang Weili is starting to unload on Joanna #UFC248
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 8, 2020
Good luck scoring this fight because it was so close. Both women traded in the fourth round, although Jedrzejczyk still had momentum on her side. She was more technical with her striking as Zhang looked to put her lights out with every blow. But still, this one was in the balance.
They came out strong in the fifth round looking to put a stamp on their performances. A firefight broke out, with Zhang’s straight punches proving highly effective. But Joanna managed to rattle the Chinese star towards the end, putting her on shaky legs. Finally, the round ended after 25 minutes of savage attrition. Dana White confirmed that this is definitely a ‘future Hall-of-Fame fight’. It better.
— UFC (@ufc) March 8, 2020
In the end, Zhang got the decision. Many fans were unhappy with this online but to be fair it was a very difficult one to call. It’s a tough one for Joanna to take because she’ll have to do something special to earn another title shot. Now that the UFC knows Zhang isn’t just a one-fight wonder, they’ll definitely promote her heavily. Zhang said:
“We are all martial artists here. We want to set an example for the kids. Thank you everyone.”
Hopefully, we see her back in the cage sooner rather than later. Who will be next for the champion? Rose Namajunas has already been offered the match-up but turned it down. One thing is for sure, nobody is going to enjoy being in there with the Chinese champion. She’s a true warrior.