Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight legends Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili will rematch this weekend (Sat., June 11, 2022) at UFC 275 inside Singapore Indoor Arena in Kallang, Singapore.
Fights don’t come much closer than the first scrap between Jedrzejczyk and Weili (watch it here). They certainly don’t come much better, either, as their five-round showdown in March 2020 is widely regarded as the greatest women’s fight in UFC history. Since that brawl, Jedrzejczyk has sat on the sidelines, waiting for the type of opportunity that really motivates her to return to action. Meanwhile, Weili coughed up a pair of losses to Rose Namajunas, leaving her hungry to work back to the belt.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Jessica Andrade (UFC 211), Claudia Gadelha (TUF 23 Finale, UFC on FOX 13), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC 203), Carla Esparza (UFC 185), Michelle Waterson (UFC Fight Night 161)
Key Losses: Zhang Weili (UFC 248), Rose Namajunas (UFC 223, UFC 217), Valentina Shevchenko (UFC 231)
Keys to Victory: Strawweight’s first great champion is a volume striker. One of the most active Muay Thai kickboxers in the sport’s history, Jedrzejczyk overwhelms opponents with punches and kicks to the head, body and legs, breaking them down with constant damage. She’s also one of the finest defensive wrestlers in her sport’s history.
There’s no easy way for Jedrzejczyk to defeat Zhang Weili. Her high-volume style guarantees that Weili will have chances to land, and “Magnum” hits pretty damn hard. At this point in the 34 year old’s career, it seems unlikely that she can really shift up her style to focus more on head movement, though any improvement in that direction would help.
Instead, I’d like to see Jedrzejczyk really focus on landing her kicks hard. Whenever the two trade punches, Jedrzejczyk should be looking to end her combination with a hard rip. Hard body and low kicks will take a bit of the sting off Weili’s shots, and she found success in putting shin to chin in their first fight.
Since Weili likes to stand her ground and fire back, hiding same side kicks behind punches would be a really great way to interrupt her would-be counters. Firing a right kick directly behind the cross is rarely a bad idea, and it might be the best way to connect on the high kick once again.
Key Wins: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC 248), Jessica Andrade (UFC Fight Night 157), Tecia Torres (UFC 235), Jessica Aguilar (UFC Fight Night 141), Danielle Taylor (UFC 227)
Key Losses: Rose Namajunas (UFC 261, UFC 268)
Keys to Victory: Weili is a remarkable physical talent. She’s a deadly combination of strength and speed, able to really stun her opponents with her heavy hands and ability to lift in the clinch. She’s also a very slick technical kickboxer with underrated submission skills.
In this bout, I’d like to see Weili commit a bit more to pressuring Jendrzejczyk. Last time out, the two were exchanging constantly, but she largely allowed Jedrzejczyk to fight from her preferred distance as a kickboxer. Weili has that background herself, but her primary advantage versus Jedrzejczyk is punching power.
Jedrzejczyk is the better kicker, so putting her on the back foot makes a lot of sense. If Weili pressures Jedrzejczyk, she makes those kick setups more difficult, meaning that Weili will have more openings to catch Jedrzejczyk clean while she’s on one foot. A few kick counters could really make Jedrzejczyk hesitate to kick, effectively mitigating one of her greatest weapons.
This is a golden ticket opportunity.
Both of these women have two losses to Namajunas on their record. So long as “Thug Rose” held the belt, a title shot was unlikely. Now that she coughed up that belt in the worst title fight of all time to Carla Esparza, there is once again a clear path to UFC gold for each woman.
Jedrzejczyk is the literal worst match up for Esparza that’s ever existed. We saw the brutal outcome in 2015, and there’s no real reason to predict a different end result if the two were to rematch. Suddenly, Jedrzejczyk isn’t that far off from being Joanna “Champion” once more, but she must first clear this major obstacle ahead of her. It’s less proven that Weili matches up as strongly with Esparza, but she would surely be favored over “Cookie Monster” as well.
At UFC 275, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili will share the cage once more. Which woman will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 275 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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