Zhang Weili falls in split decision at UFC 268

Society & Culture

Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili 2 went very differently than the first fight, when Namajunas surprised Zhang with an early knockout.

Zhang Weili falls to a split decision at UFC 268

Zhāng Wěilì 张伟丽 lost a split decision on Saturday in her attempt to reclaim the UFC Strawweight title from Rose Namajunas. The Madison Square Garden fight was a rematch of their April 24 co-main event at UFC 261, when Namajunas won the title by knocking out Zhang in 78 seconds.

Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili 2 went very differently, with Zhang winning large portions of the fight. Two judges scored it for Namajunas 49-46 and 48-47, while the third gave it 48-47 for Zhang.

Zhang found success with her newly acquired wrestling skills after she switched her fight camp to Arizona to train with former UFC double champion and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo. Those new skills were on display in the first round, when the Chinese fighter secured the first of what would be many takedowns.

Zhang, who made a name for herself with her strong striking and durable stand-up game, clearly threw off the champ with this new strategy. However, it ultimately would be her undoing.

In the first three rounds, Zhang successfully mixed leg kicks, strong counter punches, and takedowns. By the fourth, however, Zhang’s inexperience on the mat was exploited by the more seasoned wrestler Namajunas. Zhang found herself in bottom position for the second half of the fourth round and the entirety of the fifth.

Zhang congratulated Rose in the Octagon interview and expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to perform in New York’s famed Madison Square Garden.

Despite the loss, it’s clear that Zhang belongs at the top of the UFC strawweight division and has to be considered one of the best female fighters.

The new skills that she displayed were gained in a relatively short amount of time, and they will continue to improve. However, for the time being, Zhang will have to fight her way back into the title picture. Several strawweights, including Carla Esparza and Marina Rodriguez, are lining up to take a shot at Namajunas’s title.

Zhang’s next opponent could be No. 6-ranked Claudia Gadelha, but will more likely be compatriot Yán Xiǎonán 闫晓楠. Zhang vs. Wan was once thought of as a dream title fight for the promotion.

Yan, who’s also coming off a loss, is considered one of China’s best fighters. Depending on the state of China’s borders post-Beijing 2022, it’s a fight that the UFC would surely love to do in China, considering the massive growth of MMA during Zhang’s reign as world champion.

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Chinese team wins League of Legends World Championship

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND – NOVEMBER 6: EDward Gaming celebrates with a Trophy lift on stage after winning the League of Legends World Championship Finals on November 6, 2021 in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo by Clive Rose/Riot Games Inc. via Getty Images)

Edward Gaming secured China’s third World Championship title in four years after defeating defending Korean champions DAMWON KIA in a close final.

The 2021 tournament, which began on October 5 and was hosted in Iceland, was the 11th iteration of the annual competition, and featured a prize pool of $2,225,000.

China and South Korea are clearly the dominant countries in League of Legends. Only a single American team (Cloud 9) and European team (MAD Lions) made it out of the group stage.

On its run to the final, Edward Gaming knocked out fellow Chinese competitors Royal Never Give Up in the quarters before defeating Korea’s Gen.G in the semis.

Edward Gaming, the 2021 Summer Champions of China’s LPL League (the country’s top pro league), went into the final against the defending champs as clear underdogs, but were able to secure a tight victory, winning the final two matches to win the five-game series.

The win comes amid the Chinese government’s recent crackdown of video gaming.

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The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.