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Weili Zhang responds to Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s coronavirus jab: ‘Do not joke about what’s happening here’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC strawweight champion Weili Zhang has responded to an image that was posted to title challenger and former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s Instagram story, which appeared to poke fun at the deadly coronavirus.

The fan-made image, which was later deleted, displayed the Polish striking sensation wearing a gas mask, a nod to the contagious element of the disease. Chinese officials confirmed to the New York Times that there are nearly 6,000 cases of coronavirus at present. As of Tuesday, the death toll of coronavirus stood at 132, per Al Jazeera.

Responding to her upcoming opponent, Zhang posted the following to her own social media accounts:

“To make fun of tragedy is a true sign of ones character. People are dying, someones father, someones mother, someones child. Say what you want about me if it makes you feel stronger but do not joke about what’s happening here. I wish you good health until March 7th. I will see you soon.”

Zhang (20-1-0) is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC and claimed the title with a quick dispatch of then champion Jessica Andrade last August in her native China. Octagon wins over Danielle Taylor, Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres paved Zhang’s way to her title challenge against Brazil’s Andrade.

Jedrzejczyk (16-3-0) is considered the greatest champion to date in the UFC’s strawweight division, defending the title five times before being dethroned by Rose Namajunas. Although she also moved up a weight class to challenge flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko and suffered a defeat, she got back to winning ways in her last outing with a one-sided victory over Michelle Waterson.

Following Zhang’s post, Jedrzejczyk took to her Instagram story again to apologize to Zhang.

“Hey champ, hey Weili. So sorry to make you feel bad, but I would never make fun of sick people of illness or virus. I didn’t want you to get offended, but I just made fun of the funny internet meme. So, so sorry, but still, I will see you on March 7th.”