UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas has suggested the head kick she used to knock Zhang Weili out at UFC 261 was just “one of 10 ways” she could finish “Magnum.”
In front of the first sold-out crowd at a UFC event in well over a year, Namajunas became the first woman in UFC history to reclaim a title after losing it. “Thug Rose” had previously won and defended the title against Joanna Jędrzejczyk. She lost the 155-pound gold in 2019 after being on the receiving end of a brutal slam against Jéssica Andrade.
Having exacted revenge on the newly-beltless Brazilian at UFC 251 on Fight Island, Namajunas booked her spot against the high-flying champion Zhang. In the April pay-per-view’s co-main event, the 29-year-old provided one of the most memorable moments in UFC history, knocking the Chinese star out with a vicious left head kick. In achieving victory, Namajunas handed Zhang her first loss in the promotion and ended her remarkable 21-fight win streak.
Now set to run it back with her third opponent in a row, Namajunas is confident of getting the better of Zhang for the second time this year. The pair are set to collide again at UFC 268 next month.
In an interview with The Schmo ahead of the first title defense of her second reign, “Thug Rose” acknowledged the challenge she’ll be facing come November 6. However, in her mind, if she performs to her best ability, she is the best at 115 pounds.
“I’m highly confident in this fight. Knowing what’s ahead of me, I have a big task ahead of me. But I think there’s a lot of stuff that’s working in my favor. I think sometimes I take that and I spin it the other way around and I go, ‘Alright, so I gotta make sure that I’m really on top of my game because it’s easy to be sleepy.’ As long as I’m doing my best, I am the best.”
Assessing what tools she may use in her rematch against “Magnum,” Namajunas revealed she’ll be using another kick-heavy attack. Despite suggesting she could look to finish Zhang in the same way she did at UFC 261, the Wisconsin-native claimed the head kick is just one of many ways she envisions herself being able to stop the former champ.
“Well it worked [the head kick]. We can always test that out [again]. I’m always going to be throwing those kicks now. That’s my original martial arts… that’s what I started in is Taekwondo. I’ll definitely be doing that and a lot more. That was just, kind of, one of 10 ways that I see myself finishing her.”
Despite the red-hot form of the inaugural strawweight queen Carla Esparza, who has built a five-fight win streak that includes victories over Yan Xiaonan, one half of this weekend’s main event Marina Rodriguez, Michelle Waterson, and Alexa Grasso, Zhang has had her wish for an immediate rematch with Namajunas granted. Her chance for redemption will be the first of two blockbuster championship rematches set to go down inside Madison Square Garden.
In the main event, UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman will revisit his rivalry with Colby Covington. Having already beaten “Chaos” at UFC 245 in 2019, “The Nigerian Nightmare” will look to repeat the feat on November 6.
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 268, Rose Namajunas or Zhang Weili?