With UFC 248 being the night before International Women’s Day, Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk put on an unforgettable contest to demonstrate the impact females can bring to the combat sports world.
On the 7th March, Israel Adesanya defended his middleweight title against Yoel Romero at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada in front of 15,077 attendees.
However, despite this being the main card of the evening, it was the co-main event which arguably stole the show. This involved Weili Zhang defend her strawweight championship belt against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a fierce and gruesome bout. UFC Commentator Joe Rogan classed this fight as one of the best match-ups in the UFC’s history.
Weili entered the fight on Saturday with a 20-0 record and is described as the ‘Trojan Horse for the UFC in China’, clearly put by Yahoo! Sports Columnist Kevin Iole. On the other hand, Joanna had obtained the longest reigning women’s strawweight champion status in UFC history. Furthermore, she was the first champion in Poland with the most significant strikes in the strawweight division.
The two UFC professionals have over 2 million Instagram followers between them, as well as have had their official event highlights on YouTube gain over 800,000 views, which beats Adesanya vs Romero’s YouTube output so far. Also, Weili vs Joanna’s post-fight interview coverage has produced over 4.5 million hits in the space of a day. From the digital outreach so far, could combat sports be the next venture to grow its audience more towards females?
On another note, the sports industry is becoming more female-dominated as time progresses. Examples include the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup being the most-watched women’s world cup ever, with the event producing a total audience reach of 1.12 billion. Furthermore, the group stage of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup has also set new digital records with the official tournaments social media channels, developing 2 billion impressions online with 34 million hits for its engagement.
These achievements present the rising profile of women’s sport and I believe both Weili and Joanna have showcased the influence women can and will bring to the sports industry.
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