Zhang defends world title with commanding performance at UFC 292
Zhang Weili retained her UFC Strawweight World title in a dominant wrestling performance against Brazilian Amanda Lemos at UFC 292 in Boston, Massachusetts, on Saturday.
Zhang, the women's pound-for-pound number one fighter in the world, arrived on the East coast of America as the favorite against the dangerous Brazilian striker who entered her first title shot off the back of four straight finishes.
In the opening round, Zhang immediately took the initiative. After landing a strong low kick counter to put Lemos down, Zhang showed her strength and wrestling prowess to land from the top position. Despite a scary Darce choke attempt from Lemos, Zhang cruised to an easy round win.
The second started with both women exchanging strikes before Zhang went back to her wrestling game plan securing the takedown with ease. Despite Zhang's ground and pound output lowering, it was still pure domination from the Chinese champion.
Zhang's 125 to Lemos' four strikes at the start of the round told the story of the fight. Zhang's elbows from the clinch started the round before Zhang secured yet another takedown. After another four minutes of domination of the ground again, the round ended on the feet with Zhang easing to the bell and 160 strikes landed by the Chinese fighter to the nine from the Brazilian.
Wrestling took a back seat in the third, as the fight remained standing for the majority of the round. Lemos, who had been touted as a dangerous striker before the fight, finally began to land some dangerous offense. The round finished with both fighters fatigued and Zhang finishing strong.
The fifth once again started with a kickboxing exchange, before Zhang landed a picture-perfect straight right hand to put Lemos down. In a flash Zhang swarmed the Brazilian with desperate ground and pound, searching for the finish. Yet, Lemos showed her heart and survived the brutal onslaught, but it was not enough to turn the one-way traffic.
It was a champion's performance from Hebei's Zhang, who set a new strike record and set a new margin for the largest strike differential in history with 296 strikes to Lemos' 20. The judges' scorecards reflected the domination, with Zhang winning 50-43, 50-44 and 49-45 to take a clear unanimous decision.
The win perhaps sets up an all-China affair against Yan Xiaonan for the Strawweight title, in a fight that could potentially take place in China for the first time since 2019, when Zhang won her belt for the first time in Shenzhen.