Zhang Weili vs Rose Namajunas Full Fight UFC 268 Part I
- Posted on Nov 07, 2021
- 58091 views
Although the challenger made a compelling case, there would be no new strawweight champion crowned on Saturday.
Rose Namajunas did enough over 25 minutes to convince two of the three judges that she outworked Zhang Weili to retain her championship status.
The women’s strawweight title bout was the UFC 268 co-main event at Madison Square Garden in New York. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+.
Weili (21-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) started the action with a few intermittent leg kicks as the two fighters bounced around the octagon, feeling each other out. Namajunas (11-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) committed to a quick punching combination, finding a home for each strike.
The first big moment of the round would come when Weili secured a takedown and began looking to improve her position. Namajunas defended her progression well, forcing Weili to opt for a few ground and pound strikes before they returned to the feet. Once off the mat, the pair exchanged a few strikes before the round ended.
The calculated action continued in the second round. Namajunas was patient as she slowly stalked and looked for openings while Weili circled on the outside and kept her feet moving. Just as the champ seemed to feel her rhythm, Weili stung her with a stiff punch, causing Namajunas to stumble momentarily. The challenger would use the moment to bring the fight to the mat briefly, but Namajunas worked her way back up and got a takedown of her own, ending the round on top.
The pace slowed at the beginning of the third, aside from a few range-finding kicks from both fighters. Namajunas stuck with her plan of picking shots and eventually found a right hand to get the attention of Weili. Moments later though, the challenger would land a hard left hook of her own, before getting a takedown and ending up in full mount, where she would land a nice elbow just before the end of the frame.
Namajunas came out with a little more urgency in the fourth round, perhaps sensing she was down on the scorecards. Quick punches found their mark and the champ kept the pressure high in the opening moments. Weili clinched and scrambled her way to a completed takedown, but Namajunas was able to end up on top after they jockeyed for position. Weili did well to minimize damage, but she spent a significant amount of time on her back before heading to the final round.
The MSG crowd began chanting for the champion just moments before she secured a takedown in the center of the cage. Namajunas landed ground and pound strikes while maintaining top position for the majority of the round, putting a stamp on the last minutes of action before heading to the judges’ scorecards.
Two judges would agree Namajunas won the fight, turning in scores of 48-47 and 49-46 in her favor while the dissenting judge scored the contest for the challenger 47-48.
For the second time in her career, Namajunas finds herself successfully defending the title for the first time against the same fighter she defeated to become champion. She defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk back-to-back at UFC 217 and UFC 237 and now Weili at UFC 261 and UFC 268. Namajunas will now likely face former champ Carla Esparza, a rematch from the inaugural strawweight title fight in 2014.
Weili drops two in a row for the first time in her career. Before facing Namajunas twice, Weili’s sole career loss came in the first professional fight of her career. After that, she ran through her competition, racking up 21 straight victories. The first Chinese champion in UFC history will look to move past a rough 2021 campaign and attempt to right the ship after coming up short in this close battle.