The highly anticipated match between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk finally happened tonight at UFC 248, with Jedrzejczyk coming to challenge Zhang, the first Chinese UFC champion, for the strawweight championship title. The bout lived up to the hype, with both athletes exchanging non-stop strikes and keeping up intense pressure and pace the entire fight.
Round one set the pace as a fast, action-packed back-and-forth between the fighters. Both opted to keep the fight on their feet the whole time, showing off their prowess as strikers as they engaged in quick, intense strike exchanges and pushed the pace. Zhang landed a couple of strikes as the bell rang, and Jedrzejczyk landed a late strike that she apologized for.
Round two was much of what we saw in round one, with both fighters delivering a strike- and kick-heavy game. A takedown attempt from Zhang led to a clinch battle that saw Jedrzejczyk trying to inflict damage with knees. Zhang attempted another takedown, but was unable to capitalize on it. At the end of the round, Jedrzejczyk came in strong with a series of aggressive strikes, but Zhang regained control and got Jedrzejczyk to the ground just as the round ended.
The third round saw Zhang considerably more fatigued than the previous rounds, but she was still able to take the strikes Jedrzejczyk landed while keeping Jedrzejczyk on her toes. A strong right hand from Zhang led to significant swelling on Jedrzejczyk’s forehead that continued to swell as the fight went on. Zhang had multiple takedown attempts and was able to get Jedrzejczyk to her knees, but couldn’t do anything with it before the end of the round.
Rounds four and five saw a reenergized Zhang coming after Jedrzejczyk with more aggression, with each fighter landing a number of significant strikes, kicks, and knees. Zhang’s face started to show noticeable swelling as well, but neither fighter stopped putting the pressure on. A few clinch battles led to Zhang attempting to trip Jedrzejczyk to get her to the floor, but she was again unable to capitalize, and Jedrzejczyk was able to get back to her feet to continue the fight.
After the final bell, the judges awarded Zhang the split decision victory, and she will retain her strawweight title.