Folks, Rose Namajunas has done it again.
Less than four years after winning the UFC's strawweight championship in a shocking knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk in New York, Namajunas (10-4) knocked out Zhang Weili with a left head kick just 1:18 into the opening round on Saturday. The 115-pound title fight co-headlined UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
"I did it again," said Namajunas, through tears. "I am the best."
Namajunas, 28, has essentially grown up in UFC title fights. She fought in the UFC's inaugural strawweight title fight in 2014 at the age of 22 and lost to Carla Esparza. She won the belt against Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 in 2017 then surrendered it to Jessica Andrade in 2019. During that time, she also has openly talked about the pressure of public life and retirement.
In beating Zhang, Namajunas has now taken out two of the most dominant strawweights in the history of the sport. Jedrzejczyk (16-4) holds the division's record for most title defenses with five. Zhang (21-2) sees a 21-fight win streak snapped, going back to 2014.
Namajunas, who fights out of Denver, dropped Zhang in the center of the Octagon with a head kick then pounced on her with right hammerfists. Zhang appeared to go unconscious from the shots, and then immediately disputed the stoppage with referee Keith Peterson.
Even after seeing the replay, Zhang, at least initially, said through a translator she believed she was still conscious at the time of the stoppage.
"I didn't see her moving," Namajunas said. "I wasn't sure if she was gonna come back from that. A couple hammerfists I let go, and she was out."
It's a very quick, stunning way for the Chinese strawweight to lose her title, which almost mirrors the way she first captured it. Zhang, 31, took the belt in 2019 by knocking out Andrade in just 42 seconds in Shenzhen, China.
It is the eighth knockout by head kick in UFC title fight history.