Zhang Weili seals her championship. XINHUA
It was a battle of power, as China’s Zhang Weili took on Polish rival Joanna Jedrzejczyk in what is being called one of the greatest fights in women’s MMA history.
In UFC 248 on March in Las Vegas, US, the 30-year-old Zhang came out victorious in a 25-minute brawl that could only be separated by the judges’ split-decision.
The bout was Zhang’s first defence of her UFC strawweight title after she became China’s first-ever UFC champion last September. That fight lasted just 42 seconds, but Jedrzejczyk presented a host of new challenges for Zhang.
From round one, both fighters went back and forth with barely a lull in the action. Zhang’s considerable punching power gave her the early advantage as the pair traded in the first and second rounds.
However, as a former five-time defending champion, Jedrzejczyk used her greater experience and switched her style, catching Zhang with huge kicks to the face and body to win round three.
Going into the championship rounds, despite looking the more tired, Zhang again caught her opponent with well-timed counter punches but also sustained heavy blows to the head, giving her a bloody nose. It was hard to choose between the two women. Two of the three judges scored in favor of Zhang by just a single point, earning Zhang her first title defence.
UFC commentator, Joe Rogan, said after the bout that it was “the greatest fight” he has ever seen in women’s MMA and congratulated Zhang’s “epic performance”.
But for Zhang, “It was a tough journey for me to be here at a tough time for my country ... I hope everybody can stand together to fight the virus with an united effort,” she said.