On Deck: Looking Ahead To Weili Zhang vs. Rose Namajunas

Weili Zhang is looking to defend her strawweight title for the second time as she faces former champion, Rose Namajunas in the first of three title fights at UFC 261.

After Zhang had the Fight of the Year in 2020 against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 where she edged out a split decision. However, due to the pandemic, she hasn’t been able to fight, and when she was set to return, it was uncertain if Namajunas would be the one fighting her, as Dana White said she didn’t want the fight at the date, but that appears to not be the case.

Zhang vs Namajuans Opening Odds:

Zhang -200
Namajunas +170

Zhang and Namajunas’ recent fights

Weili Zhang (21-1) is coming off one of the best fights of all-time as she edged out a split decision win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk to defend her belt for the first time. In just her fourth UFC fight, she became the strawweight champ with a 42-second TKO win over Jessica Andrade. She also holds wins over Tecia Torres, Jessica Aguilar, and Danielle Taylor. Her lone loss was her first professional fight as she lost to Bo Meng.

Rose Namajunas (9-4) returned to the win column last time out as she earned a split decision win over Jessica Andrade at UFC 251 In the fight before, she was knocked out via slam by Andrade to lose her strawweight title. After fighting for and losing the inaugural strawweight title to Carla Esparza, she has beaten the likes of Angela Hill, Paige VanZant, Tecia Torres, and Michelle Warerson and then scored a first-round TKO win over Jedrzejczyk to win the belt. She defended her belt only once, a decision win over Jedrzejczyk at UFC 223.

Are the odds surprising?

I am not surprised Weili Zhang is the favorite, but I am surprised she is above -200. However, Namajunas has never gotten the respect by the public as she opened as the underdog in both Jedrzejczyk fight and the first Andrade fight. However, she has proven herself as an elite strawweight.

Zhang, meanwhile, gets the respect of the public as besides the fight with Andrade, she has been the betting favorite and above -150 in every fight.

How might the odds change?

I do think the line will get closer by fight night.

Both Namajunas and Zhang have a solid fanbase, while Zhang hasn’t fought in well over a year which could scare some bettors off. On the flip side, the champion has fight ending power, while Namajuans will likely need to be the technician and win a decision.

By April 24, I expect this line to be around -150 Zhang with the comeback at +120 on Namajunas. It is a close fight on paper, and I expect the odds to reflect that.

Written by Cole Shelton

Follow Cole on Twitter: @ColeShelton91



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