A strawweight title matchup between reigning champion, Zhang ‘Magnum’ Weili, and former titleholder, ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas is currently in the works for UFC 261 on April 24th. — with the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada expected to house the event.
According to a recent report from Combate reporter, Raphael Marinho — initial plans for the promotion to house the event in a trip to Singapore proved ultimately fruitless after talks with the local government broke down. The report also detailed how Weili vs. Namajunas is the UFC’s planned title fight, however, if terms can’t be reached with the latter, inaugural UFC and Invicta FC champion, Carla Esparza would fight Weili instead. With plans now rolling toward the first of those possible matchups, Esparza has been linked to a potential title-eliminator against Yan Xiaonan.
Looking to score her second title defence, Chinese powerhouse, Weili managed a close decision win over former division queen, Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 248 in March last year — in a lock for Fight of the Year accolades. Zhang had claimed the strawweight throne on home soil at UFC Fight Night Shenzhen in August of 2019 – scoring a knockout win over common foe, Jessica Andrade inside the opening minute.
Returning to the win column at UFC 251 in July last on ‘Fight Island’ fan-favourite, Namajunas rematched the aforementioned, Andrade, claiming a close decision win over the Brazilian. The Milwaukee native initially clashed with the Parana native at UFC 237 in May of 2019 – dropping the 115-pound crown in a brutal slam knockout loss. News of the earmarked championship pairing was initially reported by ESPN MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani.
Punishing striker, Weili, who has laid waste to all her five Octagon opponents so far, has made a massive impact on the sport already.
The 10-1 knockout artist has bested the likes of Danielle Taylor, submitted former WSOF champion, Jessica Aguilar, and took a decision win over Tecia Torres on her way to the strawweight summit. Spearheading Asian mixed martial arts in North America, the 31-year-old has already added two sizeable feathers to her cap with her above noted wins over Andrade and Jedrzejczyk.
Like Weili, Namajunas also holds a victory over Polish Muay Thai ace, Jedrzejczyk – two in fact. Claiming the strawweight crown, Namajunas scored an earth-shattering opening round knockout win over Joanna, ending a five year, fourteen-fight unbeaten streak at UFC 217 in November 2017.
Successfully lodging her one and only title defence, the Trevor Wittman product scored a rematch win over Jędrzejczyk in a much closer rematch the following April. Also finding themselves on the wrong end of results to Namajunas, we’ve got former Invicta FC champions, Michelle Waterson, and Angela Hill, as well as recent BKFC feature, Paige VanZant to name a few.
UFC 261 is also expected to feature a flyweight title clash between incumbent titleholder, Valentina Shevchenko and former strawweight champion, the above-mentioned, Andrade — potentially in the co-main event of a championship doubleheader.