Weili Zhang lost her professional MMA debut when she dropped a unanimous decision to Meng Bo in 2013. Today, Bo is 17-5 and fighting under the One Championship banner. Zhang is 21-1 and the defending UFC strawweight champion. On Saturday, Zhang puts her title on the line against former UFC 115-pound queen, Rose Namajunas.
Zhang captured the belt in 2019 with a blistering fast TKO victory over Jessica Andrade. In her first defense of the title, the 31-year-old scored a split-decision win over ex-champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Namajunas won the strawweight crown in 2017 with a first-round TKO win over Jedrzejczyk. She defended the belt with a decision victory over the former champion in a rematch, but lost her title to Jessica Andrade via slam in 2019. Namajunas got the win back from Andrade in 2020 with a split decision, but not the title since Andrade had dropped the belt to Zhang.
To me, the most revealing stats heading into this matchup are the offensive striking numbers. Zhang, who has five UFC fights to her name, has shown her aggression in those fights. Her 6.38 significant strikes landed per minute ranks her fourth all-time in the UFC’s women’s strawweight division. Zhang lands 2.25 significant strikes per minute more than Namajunas, while also having a higher landing percentage than the challenger. I think Zhang’s landing percentage and accuracy will play an enormous role in this contest.
UFC 261 takes place Saturday at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The main card streams on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+ and early prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.
Below is a look at how Zhang and Namajunas match up in offensive striking and other key stats ahead of the event.
UFC 261: Zhang vs. Namajunas
|Sig. Strikes Landed Per Min.||6.38||4.13|
|Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||4.43||3.98|
|Takedown Avg./15 min||1.26||1.91|
|Submission Average Per 15 min||0.5||0.8|
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