Zhang Weili is nothing if not resilient.
The now former strawweight champion suffered he first loss inside the octagon on Saturday night after Rose Namajunas caught her with a head kick early in the first round in their co-main event fight at UFC 261. While Zhang protested the stoppage, subsequent replays seemed to show she was definitely stunned and no longer intelligently defending herself after Namajunas followed up the head kick with more punches.
In her first statement since the fight ended, Zhang congratulated Namajunas on a job well done as she now becomes a two-time strawweight champion.
She also detailed her plans to come back even better than before with hopes that the UFC will give her a second shot at Namajunas in the near future.
“I want to congratulate Rose on her victory,” Zhang wrote on Instagram. “She bounced back from her defeat. I believe I will also come back, only beat a great champion, to become a legend, and beat a legend, I will become a new me. Before, my goal was to win the UFC championship, but today, I have a higher goal than that. Thank you!
“It’s normal to lose and win. That’s the UFC. [Jessica] Andrade, Joanna [Jedrzejczyk], Rose have all lost and they all come back and try again. I have deepened my understanding of UFC today. So I believe I can come back. Hopefully the UFC will schedule a rematch soon.”
Prior to her setback at UFC 261, Zhang had been perfect in the promotion including her first-round knockout win over Jessica Andrade to become champion and then the Fight of the Year performance against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in March 2020 in her first title defense.
While it’s not totally uncommon for a long reigning champion to earn an immediate rematch, Zhang was only going into her second title defense when suffering the knockout loss to Namajunas.
There’s no telling for certain what the UFC has planned, although Namajunas seemed ready to stay active as champion with numerous contenders including Zhang now lining up to face her.