UFC 268: Namajunas vs Zhang odds and predictions
Guy Giles makes his pick as Rose Namajunas defends her UFC strawweight title in a rematch against Zhang Weili at UFC 268 in New York.
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Namajunas vs Zhang odds
The co-main event at UFC 268 sees two-time strawweight champion Rose Namajunas defend her belt in a rematch against Zhang Weili.
Namajunas reclaimed the 125lb title in April with a beautiful head-kick knockout, inflicting Zhang’s first professional loss in eight years.
‘Thug Rose’ first became champ in November 2017 when she knocked out Joanna Jedrzejczyk, going on to defend the belt in a rematch before losing it to Jessica Andrade.
Namajunas then beat Andrade to earn another shot at the belt, which she took by dispatching Zhang after just 1:18 of the first round in Jacksonville.
Zhang, meanwhile, is looking to follow in her opponent’s footsteps by reclaiming the title which she held for nearly two years.
The UFC’s first Chinese champion has just two career losses to her name, with the first coming in her professional debut, so she’ll have been in unfamiliar territory in the six months since her last fight.
‘Magnum’ has made some significant changes in that time, moving teams to join Fight Ready in Arizona with former UFC champion Henry Cejudo.
It’s hard to split these two fighters, and that is reflected in the odds, with Namajunas priced at +105 to defend her belt.
Namajunas vs Zhang prediction
Namajunas displayed her dynamism on the feet in their first meeting, never allowing Zhang to settle into an early rhythm with her constant foot and head movement.
In recognising Zhang’s tendency to start slow and feel out her opponents, Namajunas was able to force her onto the back foot before setting up the finish with a clever feint and devastating head kick.
Zhang should come out a bit stronger this time round, and will likely try to close the distance on Namajunas, who is so dangerous from range.
The challenger does have a clear size advantage, so may attempt to initiate some exchanges in the clinch in order to break Namajunas down.
Namajunas is no slouch in the grappling department, though, and has a slippery ground game that could open up a submission.
‘Thug Rose’ has proven ability to adapt and perform in the biggest fights – she is 3-0 in rematches.
It also feels as though Namajunas is in Zhang’s head a bit in the lead up to this fight, and that mental advantage may prove crucial.
This one is unlikely to end as fast as their first fight, but the result could well be the same.
If Zhang is unable to secure a finish within the first round or two, look for Namajunas to take control with her world-class striking.
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