Two years removed from their Fight of the Year at UFC 248, Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk ran it back as part of the UFC 275 main card on Saturday night.
The Singapore crowd and those watching at home would get just three rounds, not five, in the rematch — but the winner would move on to fight Carla Esparza for the UFC’s strawweight championship.
Expectations being what they were, of course, there was a real question as to whether the rematch could possibly live up to the original. It did, though it was a very different fight — one that didn’t require the full three rounds afforded to it.
One of the most hotly anticipated rematches in years started off with Jedrzejczyk on the outside, using lateral movement, while Zhang tried to cut her off. Jedrzejczyk landed a leg kick; Zhang countered with a right hand. Coming together a moment later, Jedrzejczyk landed a low kick, and a punch up top. Her next attack took Zhang off her feet care of another leg kick.
Zhang got right back in it after that, going on the attack and hitting a takedown! The Polish fighter was trapped against the fence, eating punches; she got back to her feet, but Zhang showed more of her newly honed wrestling skills, getting the fight down again. Lots of top time from Zhang; when they got up again, Jedrzejczyk appeared to nearly get the upper hand, but Zhang got her back down. By the final 90 seconds Zhang was in mount, dropping huge elbows! Jedrzejczyk was flat-out dominated and began eating more elbows from Zhang! She stayed in it, got back up, but didn’t have much time to steal back the round, if it was even possible. Jedrzejczyk would connect in the final seconds, firing a combo just before the buzzer.
Round one had lived up to expectations, lofty as they were. Round two saw Jedrzejczyk utilizing those low kicks, nearly taking Zhang’s feet out from under her again. They continued to trade, and a massive “Weili” chant broke out at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. China’s Zhang fired a kick to the body. Jedrzejczyk wound up in a clinch, but this time, fought off the takedown. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Zhang fired a spinning back fist— and Jedrzejczyk hit the canvas! No follow-up necessary, as Zhang had the walk-off KO!
— UFC (@ufc) June 12, 2022
Following the fight, Joanna Jedrzejczyk announced her retirement, apologizing for letting the matchmakers down. If that retirement sticks, it will bring about the end to a Hall of Fame career. “I want to be a mom, I want to be a businesswoman,” Jedrzejczyk said, noting that at 35, she’d been training for 20 years. “I love you guys,” she finished, leaving her gloves in the cage.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 12, 2022
Official Result: Weili Zhang def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk by knockout (spinning back fist), Round 2, 2:28