Rose Namajunas became a two-time UFC champion in April when she scored a first-round knockout win over Weili Zhang. On Saturday, the 29-year-old Namajunas looks to make the first defense of her second title run when she faces Zhang in a rematch. The bout serves as the co-main event of UFC 268.
The first meeting between these two, which took place on the UFC 261 fight card, had barely begun when Namajunas unloaded a head kick that brought the bout to a close at 1:18 of the first stanza.
Namajunas and combined for 12 landed strikes during their first fight. Those numbers fall right in line with the average strikes per minute landed by each fighter. Namajunas, who averages 4.13 significant strikes per minute, landed five strikes. Zhang, who averages 6.36 significant strikes per minute, connected seven times.
The question heading into this fight is, will Zhang be the same high-volume fighter we saw in the past or will she have a different game plan? The reason for this question is that UFC 268 marks the first full camp Zhang put together in the United States. In preparation for the Namajunas rematch, the 32-year-old Zhang has been working with Henry Cejudo and the man who helped Cejudo become a two-division UFC champion, Eric Albarracin.
Cejudo thinks the work his team has put in with the former champ will pay off.
“There’s only one Zhang Weili and she can pick up anything that I’m teaching her,” Cejudo told ESPN. “So, it’s scary. It’s almost to the point where, pick your poison. You want to go off the clinch? You want to go for takedowns? You want to go counters? She’s there. It’s scary to see the type of fighter that she could become.”
UFC 268: Namajunas vs. Zhang
|Sig. Strikes Landed Per Min.||4.13||6.36|
|Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.99||4.42|
|Takedown Avg./15 min||1.89||1.24|
|Submission Average Per 15 min||0.8||0.5|