When Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili met for the first time back in April amidst the absolute chaos that was UFC 261, there were a lot of questions that about how Rose would fare against a bruiser like Zhang.
As we all know, Rose answered those questions with a head kick that should be entered into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Now, I do have some issues with the UFC making an immediate rematch. I don't think it was the best decision for Zhang Weili, or the division. But there's nothing I can do about that, so why dwell on it.
With said rematch only a few days away, let us revisit what exactly transpired during their brief first encounter.
To start, I completely forgot how short the fight was, the finish coming within 90 seconds of the opening bell.
Right away, it was clear that both fighters had done their homework on the other, and had very different game plans.
Rose's movement was clearly a massive part of her game plan. Her feet never stopped moving, and she bounced in and out of Zhang's range very effectively. It was clearly giving Zhang difficulties deciphering where her openings and timing would be.
Zhang's strategy appeared to heavily be focused on wearing Rose down, and landing big shots when she had opportunities. She threw and landed several inside leg kicks throughout the fight, and as Rogan and DC pointed out, likely intended to use those to slow her movements and compromise Rose's very dangerous front leg.
As we know, Rose threw that perfect head kick right past Zhang's right hand, sitting her down and then finished the fight (and I hope we can all agree that it was not an early stoppage at all).
Now, let us speculate.
It would have been quite interesting to see how the fight would have played out into the middle and later rounds. It is entirely possible that the leg kicks could have caused some real problems for Rose.
Rose's movement caused serious problems for Zhang right off the jump. Alongside her feet, her head bobbed back and forth and her hands never stopped moving despite only throwing a couple of actual punches. It appeared to make Zhang very uncomfortable, while Rose looked supremely confident.
What excites me about the rematch, is that both fighters are going to be coming in completely confident.
Rose, coming off of that performance proved that she is, in fact, the best. Whatever it was that her and Pat Barry and Trevor Wittman had deciphered about Zhang's game turned out to be spot on.
And Zhang, for whatever reason, seems to not really feel like she lost the previous fight. I will be intrigued to see whether or not she makes some adjustments and what those adjustments will be, considering she didn't exactly get a lot of octagon time with Rose to get an understanding of her movement and timing.
Anytime Rose Namajunas fights is an absolute must watch for me. I am excited to see her mentally and physically healthy and performing at such a high level. Zhang Weili is an absolute beast, and this should be one hell of a fight.