Rose Namajunas Instant Win Over Zhang Weili for Big Bonus Odds at William Hill. Prediction: Zhang Weili (-200) vs. Rose Namajunas (+170).
Rose Namajunas will launch her third run at the UFC women’s strawweight belt on Saturday, but there’s the small matter of incumbent Zhang Weili blocking her route back to gold.
Let’s underline that Zhang (21-1) is ‘small’ only in terms of stature, given that her striking is arguably the best in the division, if not up there with the finest in women’s MMA overall.
The titleholder has earned her right to be named a -200 moneyline favorite with William Hill, even if her opponent was strawweight champion herself as recently as May 2019.
It was Jessica Andrade who then took the belt from +170 underdog Namajunas (9-4) with a slam knockout that went viral. “Thug Rose” ran it back to avenge that loss with a split-decision win, before which Zhang made light work of the Brazilian with a first-round finish to become champion.
The other opponent this pair holds in common is Joanna Jedrzejczyk, from whom Namajunas took the title in the first place. Her two wins over the Pole trump Zhang’s one, but the Chinese champion secured her place in the history books when she faced Jedrzejczyk in her only title defense to date:
Zhang Weili already has one of the greatest fights of all time on her resume.— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 21, 2021
Can she create another instant classic with Rose Namajunas at #UFC261? pic.twitter.com/Hz5HfKQMDy
A black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu gives Namajunas some edge in the ground game considering her opponent holds only purple credentials in that department. The problem for Zhang’s opponents traditionally comes in getting her to that portion of the fight, although the 31-year-old is ever open to the challenge if her bouts transition that way.
A Namajunas submission win returns a steep-looking +650, though a large factor in those odds will be the fact Zhang has not tasted defeat since her debut pro fight in 2013. William Hill is also offering the underdog at +1200 to win in the first round, which is when she TKO’d Jedrzejczyk to win the belt for the first time back in November 2017.
A Thug Rose submission appeals as an outside bet largely due to that being a rare advantage here, but also due to the fact she’s signalled as much as her map to victory:
I don’t know if there is an MMA fighter I enjoy watching more — from a technical striking standpoint — than Rose Namajunas. Zhang is quickly climbing that list, too. Can’t wait to see this fight. https://t.co/R7QYvLqzMl— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 19, 2021
Nonetheless, a well-rested Zhang is a dangerous prospect after more than a year since her last fight and is probably the toughest prospect Namajunas will have faced to date.
“Magnum” has proved herself capable of lasting over 25 minutes but also has that rare level of additional stopping power. Despite Namajunas also possessing tremendous cardio, matching Zhang’s output through the championship rounds is where the cracks may appear, and a knockout finish for the current champion at +240 appeals for that reason.
Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas Prediction:
Zhang via KO/TKO (+240) in Rd 4 (+2000)
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