Newly-minted Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight champion, Weili Zhang, was tonight (Sat., March 7, 2020) tasked with turning back former dominant division champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, in the pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event of UFC 248, which took place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
And after an epic back-and-forth brawl, one that is a sure-fire candidate for “Fight of the Year,” Zhang emerged victorious via split decision (watch highlights).
The pair exchanged low kicks early, both feeling out each other in the first minute. Jedrzejczyk scored with a hard, straight right hand, which she followed up with another hard shot. Moments later she connected with a solid inside leg kick as Zhang’s red face showed signs of damage. She connected with a quick left hand, though, midway through the opening frame. Zhang started to gain confidence, chasing Jedrzejczyk around the Octagon, looking to trap her along the fence. The two eventually circled back to the center of the cage, where Zhang started to unload with lightning-fast combinations. Jedrzejczyk landed a solid counter, but it was clear she was uncomfortable with the pressure. They continued to trade shots until the round ended, with Jedrzejczyk landing a questionable jab well after the bell that angered Zhang’s corner.
Jedrzejczyk opened the second stanza with a solid shot upstairs, then scored with a thudding low kick — Zhang’s lead leg was beginning to look like ground beef. The two eventually locked up in a clinch, battling back-and-forth for position along the cage, with Jedrzejczyk scoring on the break with a hard knee to the body. Zhang countered with a hard shot, then a clean left hand that appeared to hurt Jedrzejczyk. Jedrzejczyk hit the floor and Zhang angled for a choke, but there was nothing there. Zhang started to work the lower legs, while Jedrzejczyk looked to land sporadic jabs. Jedrzejczyk, questionably, jumped in with her head to end yet another frantic five-minute round.
Zhang’s face was visibly worse for the wear between rounds, but she seemed ready to rock despite the foul. Zhang connected early, snapping Jedrzejczyk’s head back violently with a short left hook. Jedrzejczyk switched to Southpaw, backing Zhang into the fence and looking to connect with a high kick. Zhang countered with a hard right hand down the middle, but Jedrzejczyk appeared to be picking up some steam down the stretch. Zhang tripped her twice along the fence, but Jedrzejczyk popped out twice with relative ease. Zhang caught a kick and used it for a brief takedown, as Jedrzejczyk got up with a smile ... and huge hematoma growing on her forehead. Undeterred, she blasted Zhang with a hard shot that opened up her nose.
Jedrzejczyk came out to start the championship rounds looks like Alien, while Zhang was almost swollen shut. Zhang appeared to be targeting Jedrzejczyk’s forehead, bouncing hard shots off of it, one of which wobbled her. She countered, but Zhang drilled her with a hard left cross. Both women were going shot for shot — 600 total strikes thrown midway through round four. Zhang was relentless with her attack, but Jedrzejczyk was more than game, returning fire with a hard elbow that ultimately forced a clinch. Jedrzejczyk’s forehead injury was swelling by the second, compelling a visit from the ringside physician between rounds. She was given the “all clear” to return for the fifth and final frame ... for better or worse.
Zhang tattooed Jedrzejczyk with a steady diet of hard left hooks, one of which appeared to turn her nose sideways. Jedrzejczyk took a moment to let it all settle in, then fired back with a vengeance. Zhang, though, continued to press forward, looking to close the show in a super close fight. The final 30 seconds were nothing like the first 24:30, as both literally put it all on the line in what was dubbed by ringside announcer, John Anik, as the “greatest women’s MMA fight in history.”
Indeed, it was an amazing tactical battle, one that assuredly deserves immediate rematch consideration. Both women were so busted up, but in the end, Zhang did just enough to retain her title, edging Jedrzejczyk via close split decision.
What a fight.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 248 fight card this weekend starting with the Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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