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Results and video: Rose Namajunas takes split decision over Weili Zhang to retain title at UFC 268

In the UFC 268 co-main event, Rose Namajunas defeated Weili Zhang for the second time to keep her strawweight belt.

The UFC 268 co-main event witnessed the promotion’s straight queen, Rose Namajunas, beat former champ Weili Zhang for the second time — this sequel was by way of split decision. The fight was highly competitive on the feet, and sticky at times, but the big difference was the ability of Namajunas to keep top position. Once the fight hit the floor, Namajunas was the better grappler and able to keep the fight there. With Rose going up 2-0 against Zhang, is there a need for a trilogy bout anytime soon?

Namajunas took the center of the Octagon, keeping Zhang on the outside. There was a good amount of feeling out going on, but when Rose went, she unloaded. Zhang switched gears and hit a takedown to put Namajunas on her back. Several big punches were thrown, but Rose avoided most of them and worked back to her feet. Zhang was attacking the lead leg, to which Namajunas started throwing her own leg kick attacks. Then at the end of the round, Rose landed a head kick that dropped Zhang, who quickly stood back up.

The fighters were crashing into each other with combinations in round-two. This was a chess match. Rose was getting the better of the exchanges, until a massive left hand from Zhang caused the champ to stumble. The challenger then caught a kick to find top position again, but had to eat an up kick to get there. Namajunas stood back up before Zhang could really make the most of the situation. Then Rose got a takedown of her own, but ran out fo time before she throw more than one punch.

The third act was quite sticky. The fighters were staying just outside of range, with Rose slowly inching her way closer. Zhang was still attacking the legs, but the output on both sides was pretty low. When they did exchange in the pocket, Namajunas was the one coming up with the better punches. Then came a level change from Zhang, who was able to take the back and full mount, but she too ran out of time.

Zhang stuck with her leg kicks in the fourth frame. She almost took top position off of Rose botching a kick, but Namajunas spammed up kicks to get back up. Zhang made her way to the back, but Namajunas was able to spin around into the full guard. Some fun scrambles ensued, but Namajunas was staying on top. Not much damage was being dished out, but Zhang did not get back up until the bell sounded.

Zhang went right back to her leg kicks in the final round, but they weren’t really immobilizing Rose like she hoped she would. Namajunas then exploded in to put Zhang on her back, delivering a set of punches before working to maintain control. Ground strikes would land here and there, and then Namajunas would go back to controlling. Zhang did not get up again.

Rose Namajunas def. Weili Zhang by split decision (49-46, 48-47, 47-48): Strawweight Title