MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 248, a five-round UFC women’s strawweight title fight between champion Weili Zhang and challenger Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The event takes place on Saturday, March 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Weili Zhang (-165)
Zhang (20-1) is the UFC women’s strawweight champion. The 30-year-old China native is 4-0 overall in the UFC with notable wins over Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres. Zhang is currently riding a 20-fight win streak since losing her MMA debut back in 2013. She has incredible finishing ability for the weight class, stopping opponents in 17 of her 20 career wins. Zhang is well rounded, with a dangerous striking attack to go along with a savvy submission game. Her two best performances in the UFC were a submission win over Jessica Aguilar and a TKO win over Andrade. She is fighting with incredible confidence right now and she can emerge as one of the biggest superstars in the sport if she can get by Jedrzejczyk this weekend in impressive fashion.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (+145)
Jedrzejczyk (16-3) is the former UFC women’s strawweight champion. The 32-year-old Poland native is 10-3 overall in the UFC. Some of her notable wins include Jessica Andrade, Carla Esparza, and Michelle Waterson, with her losses coming against Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko. Jedrzejczyk is a talented striker who has mixes in a volume attack of punches and kicks to systematically pick apart her opponents. In all of her wins in the UFC, she has been able to outstrike her opposition, although in her losses she lost to more powerful strikers. Jedrzejczyk is very durable, having only been finished once in her entire career. She has proven her whole UFC career that she can go five rounds with the best of them. She’s already arguably the greatest women’s strawweight of all time, but winning back her belt this weekend would truly solidify the argument.
Fight Breakdown: This should be a really good fight between two elite women’s strawweights. Both women prefer to stand on the feet and strike, which should lead to a very fan-friendly fight. Jedrzejczyk has more experience in five-round fights which could certainly help her here the later the fight goes, but Zhang has the confidence that a 20-fight win streak brings. Ultimately I just don’t think you can go against Zhang here due to that win streak. Jedrzejczyk is a great fighter, but she will have to go 25 minutes against a powerful opponent who is going to try and knock her out the whole time. There is a very real chance that Zhang may be able to finish Jedrzejczyk despite her durability, but it won’t come easy. Given that Jedrzejczyk has only been knocked out once in her career I’m thinking this fight likely goes the distance, though I expect Zhang to do a lot of damage regardless. I think all the power shots Zhang lands during the five rounds are going to add up and ultimately lead to her edging out a competitive decision win to defend her belt for the first time.
Prediction: Weili Zhang wins via decision