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Zhang Weili retains strawweight title in instant classic vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
(R-L) Zhang Weili of China punches Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland in their UFC strawweight championship fight during the UFC 248 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 7, 2020 in Las Vegas. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

LAS VEGAS — Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk put on a 25-minute display of guts, grit, toughness and skill in arguably the greatest women’s fight in UFC history and one of the best fights, period, in the promotion’s 26-plus years.

Zhang retained her title by the narrowest of margins, winning a split decision. Two judges had it 48-47 for Zhang, while the third had it 48-47 for Jedrzejczyk, the former champion. Yahoo Sports gave Zhang the last two rounds and had it 48-47 for her.

Both fighters’ bodies after the fight told the fierceness of the battle. Jedrzejczyk’s forehead was grotesquely swollen and her eyes were closing. She had marks on her legs from the kicks that Zhang landed. Zhang was bleeding from the nose and mouth and her right eye was badly swollen.

The women fought fiercely and with great skills throughout. Neither went down and simply gritted her teeth and went at her opponent after being hit.

Jedrzejczyk caused problems for Zhang with her movement. In the third round, she opened up quite a bit on Zhang when she switched to southpaw and was landing clean left hands regularly.

Zhang’s corner did good work and she made the adjustments over the final two rounds. Her punches were impacting Jedrzejczyk down the stretch and staggered the ex-champion. But Jedrzejczyk would routinely gather herself and go back into the battle.

It was a riveting fight with momentum shifts and all sorts of drama that set a difficult standard for the men’s middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero that followed it.

The bout will be lauded as one of the best women’s fights ever, and while it’s true, it doesn’t go far enough. Zhang vs. Jedrzejczyk ranks among the greatest fights the UFC ever staged, regardless of the gender of the fighters.

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