Zhang Weili has earned her status, once again, as the number one contender in the UFC’s strawweight division.
An action-packed first round in her UFC 275 clash opposite Joanna Jedrzejczyk suggested fans were in for a repeat of the pair’s first, all-time classic brawl.
Midway through the second round, however, Weili stunned the commentary booth with a perfectly-timed spinning back fist which sent her Polish counterpart crashing face-first into the canvas. That finishing blow was a technique the Chinese star had been practising and said her muscle memory came into play.
“I did a lot of spinning techniques [in] practice, so that fist was just like a natural reaction,” Weili told media members at her post-fight press conference.
Despite the highlight reel finish, ‘Magnum’ was sombre after hearing her two-time rival would retire from the sport after suffering another loss by her hands. Zhang revealed Jedrzejczyk was a fighter that she had looked up to.
“Before I became a UFC fighter, Joanna was the champion, she was a role model. I wanted to chase her every day, I practised a lot.”
“[I’m] not really happy or excited after that [win], especially when I know [she’s] retiring after this fight – but then this is the experience of every fighter in this career…”
Quizzed on her composure throughout, and immediately following the fight, Weili noted that she’d put in the hard yards at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA in Thailand during her training camp, and knew in her mind that she’d come away with the W.
“My emotions are very stable because I did a lot of hard work during my training camp…”
“My weight-cut, my strength, my skills – everything [was] well prepared. That’s why my fight [went] really smoothly.”
It was revealed earlier this week that the UFC were eyeing the winner of this bout as the next title challenger for the newly crowned 115-pound champ Carla Esparza – and that’s exactly who Weili zoned in on at the media scrum.
“I want a fight with Carla in Abu Dhabi. I know there’s a fight around October.”
“I think that’s gonna be a really good fight for me, and for her,” she noted, referencing the America vs China rivalry.
The 32-year-old told reporters that she’d obviously work on her BJJ and wrestling in preparation for the match-up, but reiterated that “Mixed martial arts [covers] all [combat] sports,” and those are tools that she sharpens in preparation for any fight.
“I [can’t] have any disadvantages in any aspect. I want to be a well-rounded fighter.”