Strawweight champion Zhang Weili and former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk left their mark on UFC 248 in what many experts are calling the greatest fight in women's UFC history.
Unfortunately for Jedrzejczyk, the bloody battle left its own mark on the vanquished Polish woman's battered body.
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Zhang won via split decision in a bout that immediately became the front-runner for Fight of the Year and left nearly everyone in attendance standing and roaring in applause.
Judges Mike Bell and Derek Cleary had it 48-47 for Zhang, while Eric Colon saw it 48-47 for Jedrzejczyk. No matter whose hand was raised, it was deserved after one of the UFC’s best ever fights.
However, the nature of the contest left Pole Jedrzejczyk in a gruesome state after the bout, with several images showing the brutal extent of the damage she'd copped.
The former's champ's forehead started swelling in the third round and only got worse after some punishing shots from hard-hitting Zhang.
Commentators remarked during the bout that Jedrzejczyk's head began to look like a scene out of a Frankenstein movie, such was the amount of swelling around her forehead.
By the end of the fight, Jedrzejczyk's forehead looked grotesquely enlarged, prompting viewers to express their shock on social media.
Not a huge UFC guy, but after Weili Zhang v Joanna Jedrzejczyk from #UFC248 last night, that could change.— Joel Neill (@joelneill) March 8, 2020
I’ve never seen intensity, precision, brutality and sheer guts like that in combat sports before.
Look at Joanna’s face after round 5. Still standing.
I am speechless. pic.twitter.com/5aGphMkUNe
That poor girl and her fitted cap collection— leopold butters scotch (@ButtersMPLS) March 8, 2020
World reacts to one of the greatest ever UFC battles
Jedrzejczyk’s forehead was grossly swollen and misshapen from the right hands that she ate repeatedly from the UFC’s first Chinese champion.
But Zhang had to be at her absolute best because Jedrzejczyk was on top of her game.
“Joanna comes to fight,” White said. “She’s incredibly talented. She comes to win. She comes to hurt you. She comes to bust you up. She’s one of the baddest to ever do it.”
But as good as Jedrzejczyk was, Zhang matched her punch for punch. Zhang had much to deal with in the build-up, and that has nothing to do with all the expectations that were heaped on her at home. She left China because of the coronavirus and went to Thailand. But the virus showed up in Thailand and so she went to Abu Dhabi for a brief stopover before heading to Vegas.
She fought at a blazing pace for each of the five rounds despite having so many interruptions to her camp.
It’s one of dozens of reasons why the UFC brass is so high on her.
“We knew she was special and we started moving her the way you move somebody you think is special,” said White, who said she’d likely fight in New York next.
Both women were universally praised for the brutal contest, with many describing it as the best women's fight the UFC has ever witnessed.
Zhang Weili (21-1) defends her Strawweight title after she beats Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) in a 5 round split decision that has some people calling it the greatest women's UFC fight ever pic.twitter.com/J94eXMf8FC— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) March 8, 2020
It is the greatest women's UFC fight...its contention for one of the best fights ever haha— Krishooox (@WhatisuUsername) March 8, 2020
It’s absolutely greatest! Zhang is a beast! So powerful— Jacson (@Jacson960929) March 8, 2020
Forget the men/women debate... Jedrzejczyk vs. Zhang is one of the best fights the octagon has seen. Period.— Cousin Sal (@TheCousinSal) March 8, 2020
I Cant Say Enough Good Things About Weili Zhang & Joanna Jedrzejczyk And The Talent They Displayed At #UFC248. Whether It Was The Technique & Toughness Of Jedrzejczyk Or The Power & Heart Of Zhang.....These Women Put On The Greatest WMMA Fight In MMA History! 👏🏾💪🏾💯 pic.twitter.com/ONeaidsDOn— Son Yaban (@Son_Yaban) March 8, 2020
Men’s co-main event fizzles as viewers vent frustrations
The women's co-main event was in stark contrast to a men's middleweight bout that ended with loud boos from the crowd at T-Mobile Arena.
Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero entered the cage for what turned out to be one of the biggest duds of a main event in the nearly 20 years that Dana White has run the promotion.
“That fight sucked, man,” White said glumly.
He practically guaranteed that Adesanya’s next fight would be a lot more like Zhang-Jedrzejczyk than the disaster with Romero.
Adesanya will fight unbeaten Brazilian Paulo Costa whenever Costa is healthy and ready to return, probably in July at UFC 252.
Costa was disgusted by what he saw from Adesanya.
“Adesanya is the most shameful champion I have seen ever,” Costa said. “He just runs. He’s nothing. Nothing. He’s scared. He doesn’t deserve that I talk about him. I will make him cry.”
The fans were the losers in that one, though Romero was heaping all of the blame on Adesanya. When the fight began, Romero stood in the center of the ring with his guard up high and didn’t move for at least 30 seconds.
It was the start of what would be a bout filled with boos and catcalls. An angry Romero called Adesanya a ghost.
“Every time I wanted to engage, he disappeared,” Romero said.
Adesanya, of course, fired right back. He noted all the epic fights he’s had in his brief UFC career and pointed out the difference was that Romero stayed on the defensive most of the night.
“I came to fight,” Adesanya said. “He came to meringue.”
With Yahoo Sports US