Zhang Weili put on one of the greatest performance in a title fight, men’s or women’s, in UFC history. And yet her vanquished opponent, Amanda Lemos was also a big part of the story when the bout in the co-main event of UFC 292 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, ended.
Zhang won a unanimous decision by scores of 50-43, 50-44 and 49-45 as she retained the strawweight title in a jaw-dropping performance. Yahoo Sports had it 50-44 for Zhang. Zhang outlanded Lemos 288-21, had six takedowns to zero, scored a knockdown and had 14:52 — nearly three full rounds — of control time.
Lemos took a mind-boggling amount of abuse, but nearly ended the fight in the first round when after taking a pummeling, she caught Zhang in a D’Arce choke late in the first. Zhang dominated the grappling and was all over Lemos, working for submissions. She was also dropping elbows and hammer fists on her in a brutal ground-and-pound attack.
Lemos, though, never quit trying to win and the few times in the fight that she was on her feet, she landed some hard right hands. But Zhang took advantage of nearly every mistake Lemos made, as she had predicted she would. And other times, Zhang created her own openings.
“I’m not surprised because I have a great team,” Zhang said. “All the coaches give me the technique to make the fight happen like this.”
Lemos never gave up and forced Zhang to keep working, and work she did. Her conditioning was impeccable, considering her output, and after she slowed briefly in the fourth, she picked it up again in the fifth and was pummeling Lemos.
Zhang made a case that she’s now the women’s pound-for-pound champion and it is hard to argue that given her general dominance recently and her absolute dominance during this fight.
The crowd greeted her with a hero’s welcome and was chanting her name throughout the fight.
Few have ever done better in a title fight than Zhang did Saturday. And few took more punishment and walked out under their own power than Lemos.