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Zhang Weili granted U.S. visa, Yan Xiaonan lands in Auckland for UFC fight

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Zhang Weili puts her title on the line against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in March.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In the end, despite several scary roadblocks along the way, Chinese strawweights Zhang Weili and Yan Xiaonan are one step closer to making it to the Octagon.

Along with welterweight Li Jingliang, the fighters decided to leave their home country for Thailand after the novel coronavirus outbreak hit Beijing in January. Zhang and her team chose to fly to Abu Dhabi a few days later while waiting for clearance to enter the United States.

There have been more than 75,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus with over 2,000 deaths. All but six of the deaths come from China.

Zhang’s jiu-jitsu coach Pedro Jordao told MMA Fighting the fighter received her United States visa on Tuesday, clearing the path for the UFC champion and her team to travel to Las Vegas for her upcoming title defense opposite Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 on March 7. Zhang is expected to leave Abu Dhabi on Feb. 21.

Yan, who meets Karolina Kowalkiewicz at this weekend’s UFC Fight Night card in Auckland, finally landed in New Zealand on Tuesday night, her jiu-jitsu coach Ruy Menezes told MMA Fighting.

Yan arrived with four kilograms (8.8 pounds) left to cut before the official weigh-ins, where she has to hit the 116-pound mark, but Menezes doesn’t expect it to be an issue. UFC Auckland goes down Sunday morning local time.

Jingliang, currently booked to face Neil Magny on March 7, expects to be given a visa to enter the United States soon to compete in Las Vegas. “I don’t think there will be any problem,” Menezes said.