Women wage war at UFC 248
By Greg Beacham, AP Sports Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzedczyk were left bloody, bruised and swollen after the strawweights staged one of the most spectacular title fights in recent mixed martial arts history.
Zhang defended her UFC 115-pound championship belt with a brutal split-decision victory over former champion Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 on Saturday night.
Zhang (21-1) and Jedrzejczyk (16-4) traded brutal punches and kicks throughout five technically fascinating rounds, badly damaging each other’s faces. After the last of several standing ovations from the Las Vegas crowd, Zhang won the fight 48-47 on two judges’ cards, while Jedrzejczyk won 48-47 on the third.
“I had a long way to get here,” said Zhang, who had to move her training camp out of China due to the coronavirus outbreak. “It was very serious, but we made it. I’m so happy now.”
Zhang and Jedrzejczyk had a pre-fight animosity that carried straight into an uncommonly brutal bout in which the fighters traded big punches to the face from the opening round. Zhang’s power appeared to make the difference early, and Jedrzejczyk’s face showed every ounce of it late.
But Jedrzejczyk gathered herself late in the second round and had an outstanding third, switching to a southpaw stance and battering Zhang. The fourth round was more of the same brute punishment for both fighters.
Jedrzejczyk’s forehead and eyes began to swell badly in the fifth round, while Zhang bled from cuts on her face. The fighters embraced in the cage afterward.
“She did great,” Jedrzejczyk said. “We both put on one hell of a performance. I’m proud of myself and my team.”
Zhang became the UFC’s first Chinese champion last year, and she is a key to the promotion’s hopes of growing in the world’s most populous nation. The personable brawler jumped at the chance to take on Jedrzejczyk, who held the strawweight belt for 2 1/2 years and defended it five times before losing in November 2017.
Zhang clearly has the potential to be a major part of the UFC’s desire for global growth, but particularly in Asia. She is wildly popular in China, where MMA is rising in significance.