UFC 292 Staff Predictions: Zhang Weili vs. Amanda Lemos 1

UFC 292 is set to deliver fireworks, and the co-main event promises to be a thrilling showdown between two of the most exciting fighters in the women’s strawweight division.

Reigning champion Weili “Magnum” Zhang will put her title on the line against the hard-hitting Amanda “Amandinha” Lemos. With contrasting styles and a championship belt at stake, this fight has all the ingredients to be an instant classic.

Zhang, known for her relentless pace and well-rounded skill set, looks to cement her legacy as one of the greatest in the division. Lemos, on the other hand, brings a unique blend of power and precision, aiming to shock the world and claim UFC gold.

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For those eager to catch all the action, UFC 292 will be broadcasted live on ESPN+ PPV starting at 10 p.m. ET, with Prelims at 8 p.m. and Early Prelims at 6:30 p.m.

As fight night approaches, fans and bettors alike are eagerly analyzing the matchup, looking for insights and opportunities. Let’s dive into the latest betting odds and expert predictions for this highly anticipated co-main event.

Betting Odds

The betting odds reflect Zhang’s well-rounded skill set and championship pedigree, making her the favorite in this matchup.

  • Zhang Weili: -320 (BetUS)
  • Amanda Lemos: +245 (BetUS)

Zhang, known for her vicious striking and relentless pace, has proven time and again that she can win fights in various ways. Her ability to incite a war and wear down opponents through takedowns and feints makes her a formidable champion.

On the other hand, Lemos brings a unique blend of knockout power and grappling skills. Her accuracy and willingness to engage in boxing range make her a threat to anyone in the division. Lemos’s best chance may come early in the fight, where her finishing ability is most pronounced.

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Zhang vs Lemos Predictions

Braeden Arbour

Zhang Weili is a very well-rounded martial artist and an ever-improving fighter. She has viscous striking stemming from her Sanda background with killer instincts and power to back it. She will initiate the fight with feel out techniques such as her inside low kicks, lead sidekicks, feints and jabs so as to not over-commit and put herself in danger while getting a read on the distance and pace of her opponent.

Amanda Lemos is an absolute powerhouse, which is rare, especially for such a light division. She is dangerous everywhere, including KO power and excellent grappling skills. She does her best work from boxing range where she can also chain in low kicks. She is very accurate with her straights and hooks, and isnt afraid to clash in boxing range where she can end up in a clinch and find her trips and throws.

The biggest factor I believe is going to be the championship rounds. Lemos is most dangerous early on with her insane finishing ability, so if you are set on betting on Lemos, stoppage within the first two should be what you look at. However, we have seen her in the past gas or be forced to take her foot off the gas due to her cardio, and these are in three-round fights. While Zhang may not have the innate punching power of Lemos, her pace and aggression sets a difficult pace to keep up with, and I believe with the addition of takedowns and feigning takedowns, she will be able to wear down Lemos by the third. In other words, Zhang is very good at inciting a war, and in a war if Lemos cannot get an early finish, she likely breaks later on.

Pick: Zhang to win (-320 at BetUS) or Zhang to win by stoppage (-145 at BetUS)

Michael Pounders

Weili “Magnum” Zhang, 34, is one of the most athletic and well-rounded fighters in women’s MMA. The current strawweight champion has only lost 3 fights in her entire career: her professional debut in 2013 and twice to Rose Namajunas, one of which was a controversial split decision. Outside of those 3 blemishes, Zhang has an impeccable record comprised of 19 finish wins, 11 knockouts and 8 submissions.

As is true with most UFC champions, Zhang really can win the fight however and wherever is necessary. On the feet, she is a tornado of volume and violence. She is an excellent stance switch kickboxer who lands early, often, and with power from the opening moment of the fight. Her movement is fluid and explosive, able to move laterally to avoid strikes and set traps while also able to burst forward linearly with a stinging combination then back out to exit the pocket and avoid counter shots. In the instances where she is caught in an even exchange, Zhang has proven, especially in her fight of the year candidate brawl with Jendrzejczyk back in 2020, that she can take a shot or several shots and keep going forward. The only time she’s been finished was a beautiful blindside head kick from Rose.

Beyond her striking Zhang is also an increasingly strong and successful wrestler. She averages nearly 2 takedowns per fight and lands them at a 34% clip; however, in her recent 3 fights, Zhang has shot more often and with more success than early in her career. This goes to show that the champ is still improving fight after fight. Lastly, but arguably most importantly for a championship fighter, Zhang has some of the best cardio in the division. Not only can she go to war for 5 hard rounds, even after pushing and keeping and exhausting pace for 4 rounds, “Magnum” is capable of making the 5th round the best of the fight. With only 3 losses and one of the most well-rounded skillsets in the UFC, finding a weakness is challenging. Thus far, the only possible issue Zhang has shown in the cage is getting inside and pushing her preferred pace against a long and technically sound kickboxer.

Amanda “Amandinha” Lemos, massive for the division and devastatingly powerful is getting her shot at the strap at 36 years old following back to back finish wins in 2022. Lemos is a southpaw boxer who makes the most of each shot she throws. Lemos tends to fight at a slower pace than Zhang but lands at an impressive 57% clip and lands with possibly the best power in the division.

Typically, Lemos will walk forward with a long jab pawing forward. That jab is not intended to land; rather, it’s her plan to find the range so she can follow behind with a huge left hand. Her goal is to get her opponent near or against the cage. Once she does, Lemos looks to tee off in the pocket or find a clinch. In the pocket. Lemos has beautifully dangerous combinations, working in hooks and body shots until her prey hits the mat. In the clinch, Lemos’ height allows her to land thudding knees to the body which opens up the face of her opponent so she can land slicing elbows. Once in close, Lemos is as dangerous as they come.

Her issues tend to center around cardio, takedown defense, and footwork. Especially at 36, Lemos is unlikely to come in with a better gas tank than we’ve seen before, and the one we’ve seen before indicates that she’ll push a slower but solid pace for about 2.5 rounds and then be in danger of gassing out. She must be, however, aware of this issue because she’s shown better pacing in recent fights. Lemos also struggles with takedown defense. Her natural size and strength makes her challenging to take down but persistent and accredited wrestlers have found success despite her size. Lastly, Lemos can get caught chasing in some of her fights. Her flatfooted style helps her generate power but can result in her being a step slow to cutting off the cage and creating angles for her attacks. She tends to move straight forward and struggle against athletically gifted laterally moving fighters.

Lemos has a better shot to win this than the proverbial “puncher’s chance.” She really is a highly skilled and dangerous striker who has shown recent improvements in her game plan and approach in the cage. However, I’m confidently on Zhang in this fight. Zhang’s athleticism, speed, footwork, and striking variety should overwhelm Lemos on the feet. Then, even in Lemos can time Zhang and tee off, Zhang has proven time and time again that she can eat heavy shots.

But, the reason for the confidence in the wrestling. Zhang has really taken a step up in the singlet department, impressing many, myself included, with her ability to time her shots, drive through to the mat, and hold top position while executing damaging ground and pound. All of that, plus Zhang’s cardio and experience indicates that the longer the fight goes, the worse off Lemos is. For those reasons, I like Zhang to get the win and get the finish, likely somewhere in the middle rounds. I like betting Zhang inside the distance as my primary bet and then sprinkling a little on her in rounds 3 and 4.

Best Bets: Zhang to win inside the distance (-150 at BetUS) & Zhang to win in round 3 (+700 at BetUS) or round 4 (+1000 at BetUS)

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