UFC 275 Breakdown: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Zhang Weili

After waging the most thrilling scrap in women's MMA history in 2020, Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will run it back in a three-round contest Saturday at UFC 275 in Singapore.

There’s no way the sequel can match the original, is there? When Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili first collided on March 7 of 2020, they waged the greatest women’s scrap in the history of the sport.

Weili prevailed in her first title defense, winning a split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) in the UFC 248 co-main event at T-Mobile Center in Las Vegas. According to MMADecisions, five media members scored it 49-46 for Weili. Ten media members had it 48-47 for Weili, while six scored it 48-47 for Jedrzejczyk.

Since then, the 32-year-old Weili (21-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has lost back-to-back fights. The only Chinese fighter to ever win UFC gold lost her women’s strawweight belt in Jacksonville at UFC 261, when Rose Namajunas scored a first-round head-kick knockout in 88 seconds.

Then Namajunas won a split decision (49-46, 47-48, 48-47) in the rematch at UFC 268 last November. However, ‘Thug Rose’ lost the strap last month via split decision to Carla Esparza.

UFC President Dana White has said repeatedly this week that Saturday’s winner — Weili and Jedrzejczyk will collide again in the third bout on the pay-per-view card before the UFC 275 co-main — will get the next crack at Esparza, who now has two wins over Namajunas. But Jedrzejczyk initially won the 115-pound belt (and then successfully defended it a division-record five times) with a second-round KO victory over Esparza.

The 34-year-old Jedrzejczyk (16-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) hasn’t graced the Octagon since her and Weili participated in the 2020 Fight of the Year. The Polish Muay-Thai specialist has struggleld to a 2-4 record in her past six Octagon appearances, but the four defeats have come against one current champ (Valentine Shevchenko at 125 pounds) and two former champs (Namajunas and Weili).

As of Wednesday, most books had Weili listed as a -165 or -175 favorite. Jedrzejczyk was an underdog in the +140 to +145 range, while the total was 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -260, ‘under’ +210).

PREDICTION: I think Jedrzejczyk is in a great place mentally. That’s been clear in her interviews, where she’s talked about how the time off has allowed her to get all of her outside-of-the-Octagaon affairs in order. There’s no shame in Jedrzejczyk’s recent defeats (the split decision to Weili and the loss to Shevchenko at flyweight — by 49-46 scores across). Both of these women absorbed insane amounts of punishment from each other back in 2020. But since then, Jedrzejczyk has had a clear head. On the flip side, Weili took a head-kick KO less than 14 months ago, and then took a five-round decision defeat to Namajunas eight months ago. Now I certainly want to see how both fighters’ weight cuts go on Friday, so I’m not betting a big amount — yet. But for now, I’ll risk one-half unit on Jedrzejczyk for a +145 payout. If all looks good on Friday, I’ll go up to at least a full unit on Jedrzejczyk.

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