In the UFC 261 co-main event we have an epic strawweight fight between Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas. The Chinese champion is hoping to make the second defence of her 115lb belt. ‘Thug Rose’ is planning to regain the belt she lost in 2019. Who’ll win? Let’s see who the LowKickMMA staff are backing.

Jordan Ellis: I’m backing Rose Namajunas to cause an upset at UFC 261. ‘Thug’ is a true mixed martial artist who is capable to getting this done on the feet, on the floor or even by decision. Namajunas made much easier work of Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who I think was unlucky not to get the decision over Zhang last time out. Ultimately, I think Namajunas will get this fight to the mat and lock up a submission for the victory.

Prediction: Rose Namajunas

Alex Lough: The biggest question going into this fight for me is how will Zhang Weili look? She’s coming off what Dana White would call one of the ‘Fights-of-the-Ever’, and an almost 14-month layoff. We’ve seen those kind of wars change a fighter’s career, and Zhang is used to being much more active: she fought 14 times in 21 months prior to starting her UFC career. However, if she comes in looking like the Zhang Weili of old, I don’t see her losing this fight. When it comes to the stand up, I think she holds too much of a power advantage for Rose to overcome. Namajunas might be able to score from the outside early, but once Zhang is able to figure out the distance, she’ll be able to take over (see: Namajunas vs Andrade II). Namajunas will have the advantage in the grappling department, but that requires getting Zhang to the ground, which looks to be about as much fun as tackling a fire hydrant. Plus, it puts Rose in a position to get clinched, where Zhang is just nasty. I get the feeling I’ll know whether I’m right about this one in the first 30 seconds of the fight, but I’m guessing we’ll hear ‘And Still’.

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Prediction: Zhang Weili

Frank Bonada: The hardest fight to call out of UFC 261’s 3 title fights. Namajunas is an excellent submission artist with great striking. However, Zhang is an absolute powerhouse with a seemingly endless gas tank. It’s a hard one to call but I’m leaning g towarda Zhang. Her tendency to up her output towards the end of each round will disrupt Namajunas’ rhythm. I expect it to be an incredible fight with Zhang to edge it via decision.

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Prediction: Zhang Weili

Ross Markey: Akin to Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk last March, Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas is the most competitive fight the promotion could filed for strawweight honours today. Weili is sizeable to say the least at the 115-pound limit, demonstrating real standout power, and against the above-mentioned, Jedrzejczyk, displayed that she can set an impressive pace for five rounds. Namajunas’ footwork and lateral movement is how she really sets up her hands, which have improved no end in recent years. I believe Namajunas will look to push the pace early, without as much hesitation as maybe her rematch with the uber-aggressive, Andrade, but if Weili can weather that initial onslaught, which I believe she can, Namajunas could be on the receiving end of some fight altering damage in the latter rounds. Weili to score her second title knockback via a fourth round TKO.

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Prediction: Zhang Weili

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.