Rose Namajunas won the UFC strawweight championship for the second time on Saturday night, knocking out Zhang Weili in the first round of their fight at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Namajunas finished Zhang with a left head kick at 1:18 of the first round to once again win the title with a stunning knockout of a highly regarded opponent.
Zhang calls for rematch after loss
Last time, Namajunas (10-4) beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 216 in 2017 before losing the belt to Jessica Andrade in 2019. This time, she beat a fighter in Zhang (21-2) who hadn’t lost since her professional debut.
“I felt there was a really good chance I could drop her, for sure,” Namajunas said after her win. “My power is something different, not a lot of girls can hit like me.”
On Sunday, Zhang posted to Instagram to ask for a rematch.
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“I want to congratulate Rose on her victory. She bounced back from her defeat,” Zhang wrote. “So I believe I can come back. Hopefully the UFC will schedule a rematch soon.”
That was one of three title fights on the UFC 261 card. In the other two, the champions emphatically defended their titles.
Shevchenko, Usman retain titles
Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) overwhelmed Jessica Andrade (21-9) with her wrestling, then scored a TKO finish via elbows on the ground just over three minutes into the second round to defend the women’s flyweight title. It was Shevchenko’s fifth successful title defense.
Prior to this victory, many experts considered wrestling the one weak area of Shevchenko’s MMA game.
“Opponents trying to figure out a weakness of mine?” Shevchenko said afterward. “Don’t waste your time. There is none.”
Meanwhile, Kamaru Usman (19-1) knocked out Jorge Masvidal (35-15) at 1:02 of the second round of the UFC 261 Main Event to retain his welterweight championship. Usman defeated Masvidal for the second time, previously winning a one-sided unanimous decision in their first meeting at UFC 251.
While Masvidal and Usman engaged in a war of words leading up to the rematch, Usman praised his opponent after the bout.
“You elevated me,” Usman said. “You made me get into the workshop … I told everybody I’m still getting better. The sky is the limit for me as long as I’m doing this.”
Jake Paul shows up at UFC 261
Jake Paul, fresh off his knockout of Ben Askren, showed up at UFC 261. He then got into a verbal confrontation with former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier before the start of the main card.
Daniel Cormier online
“Imma Smack Jake Paul when I see him”
Daniel Cormier in person… 🤔 pic.twitter.com/zHnssneYBV
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) April 25, 2021
“I told Jake Paul, ‘Don’t play with me,’” Cormier said on the UFC 261 broadcast. “I’ll slap him in the face. I don’t play those games.”
After the card, UFC president Dana White took shots at Paul and his fledgling boxing career.
“He’s getting hand-picked opponents, and God knows what else is going on with that whole f—ing thing,” White told CBS Sports. “There is a market for that. That is not what I do.”
Paul claims that his fight with Askren generated $75 million in revenue off of 1.5 million pay-per-view buys.