Fight Study (4/24/21)
This second of three title fights on the evening is hopeful to be the most exciting title fight of UFC 261. The strawweight division’s number 1 contender and former champion, Rose Namajunas, will face the current champion, Zhang Weili, for the belt. Weili is the favorite in this bout and she will have the higher price tag in DFS contests. Weili is priced at $9,000 on DraftKings and at $21 on Fanduel. Namajunas is available for $7,200 and $17 respectively. As a title fight, this one is scheduled for five rounds, and current odds make this fight a slight -120 favorite to go the distance.
Namajunas once held the strawweight title, but lost it to Jessica Andrade who then transferred the title to Weili. Namajunas has a career record of 9-4 with 1 win by KO/TKO, 5 wins by submission and 3 wins by decision. She is a very skilled kickboxer with solid grappling. She doesn’t have much power, but outside of the champ, not many strawweights do. She has defeated some of the best strawweights out there with wins over Angela Hill, Paige VanZant, Michelle Waterson, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (twice) and Andrade (in their rematch). Now she will face the best of them all in Weili. She will have slight 1 inch height advantage as well as a 2 inch reach advantage to help her contend with the champ, but her work is definitely cut out for her on Saturday.
After losing her first professional fight, Weili has gone on a tear winning her next 21 fights leading up to this title bout. She is the best striker and grappler in the division, and since the departure of Andrade to the flyweight division, she is easily the strongest fighter in the division as well. She is a perfect 5-0 since joining the UFC and has surpassed 110 points in scoring in 3 of those fights (DraftKings scoring – she has 120+ in those same fights on Fanduel). Only Jedrzejczyk has been able to put up a good fight against her in this division so far, but if anyone can make this a fight it is Namajunas. She will have the reach to make things tough and her kickboxing is elite. Still, Weili is a significant favorite in this matchup.
Namajunas is tough and this will be key if she is to have any chance against Weili. To win on Saturday, she must hang in there for 5 rounds and win the approval of the judges. This is going to be an extremely difficult task as Weili is so well-rounded and is an unusually strong fighter for the 115 lb. division. I expect both fighters to come out strong and anticipate a very high level contest. Ultimately, Weili figures to wear down Namajunas and assert her dominance in the later rounds. Namajunas will need to bring high level cardio and fight the fight of her life if she is to take this one the distance.
Given the potential for 5 rounds of high volume striking in this fight, I like both fighter’s ability to score in this fight. Given Namajunas’ low salary, she should make a decent cash play as even in a loss she can score well if she goes deep into the championship rounds. Weili is priced much better than the other favorites in the 5 round fights and I like her potential to score big over a 25 minute fight or to get a conclusion bonus. I think she is a great cash play as I expect her to successfully defend her title and accumulate good scoring in the process. Namajunas is priced much better on DraftKings and will have the best value on that platform. Although I can never recommend playing both sides of a fight, this is one of those times when opposing fighters in the same lineup has the potential to work. Ultimately, I prefer Weili in all formats and on both platforms.
For more Fight Study, be sure to keep your eye on FantasyCruncher.com leading up to UFC 261 on April 24.
UFC 261: FIGHT #2, Namajunas vs Weili
For Fight Study on UFC 261: FIGHT #1, Masvidal vs Usman, click HERE.
For Fight Study on UFC 261: FIGHT #3, Andrade vs Shevchenko, click HERE.