clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Morning Report: Coach: Zhang Weili is ‘only one’ who ‘actually gives a good fight’ to Valentina Shevchenko

UFC 281: Adesanya v Pereira Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Zhang Weili is ready to make history on her second run as a UFC champion.

Only three women have managed to win a UFC title on multiple occasions. With all coming at 115 pounds, Zhang Weili — the current champion — is the latest to have joined the history books.

Thanks to her strong overall skillset, Zhang could shut the recently revolving strawweight door shut and has expressed interest in facing flyweight queenpin Valentina Shevchenko. Having trained with her extensively ahead of her recent title tilt, ADCC and IBJJF world champion Josh Hinger is confident China’s finest would do just fine against the virtually flawless “Bullet.”

“There’s no one that I think is really a big threat to Valentina in her category right now,” Hinger told Fruiting Body. “I think Weili is the only one who can go up and actually give a good fight to Valentina.

“Weili cuts a lot of weight for 115. She really suffers and I think — take it from a guy who’s been cutting for 20 years — I’ve always performed terribly when I’ve cut weight. When I go in as a smaller person, but healthier, I have a bangin’ performance. No one will put a point on me. Every time that I’ve won no-gi worlds at medium heavyweight, it was dominant and I was five pounds under and no one would score a point on me. I would handle people because they would get tired and I would have real strong cardio.”

A move to 125 pounds wouldn't be the first time for Zhang. A former Kunlun Fights champion, Zhang has been successful in nearly all of her 26 career pro bouts with the exception of recent encounters with Rose Namajunas.

Shevchenko looked more vulnerable than ever after her last defense against Taila Santos. Therefore, someone as skilled as Zhang overall provides an intriguing challenge, to say the least.

“I’m confident that if Weili doesn’t have to do that weight cut — the thing is she will still have to cut to make 125. She’s not just walking around at that weight. She won’t cut, she’ll diet. Maybe she’ll cut a few pounds. She’ll probably keep herself at 130 or something. I think she’s gonna perform better, that’s what I believe. I think she’ll have a better performance at that weight. I think she’ll be a better athlete. I think she’ll be faster, she’ll be stronger, she’ll be healthier, and I think that’s gonna make a big factor. She’s already a freak athlete. At 115, she’s a monster. [Daniel Cormier] says she’s the best athlete of all time, it’s hard to argue with, man.”


TOP STORIES

Backlash. Jan Blachowicz unhappy with Joe Rogan after UFC 282, slams Magomed Ankalaev for ‘bulls***’ excuses

Reaction. ‘Athlete of the century’: Fighters react to Pele’s death at 82

Assessment. RIZIN champion Kleber Koike: ’I lost a year of my life believing in the UFC

Tough. Injury scratches Geoff Neal from Shavkat Rakhmonov bout at UFC Vegas 67

Awards. MMA Fighting’s 2022 Rookie of the Year: Jailton Almeida

Comeback. Tatiana Suarez eyeing UFC return in February after injury plagued four-year layoff

Rivalry. A.J. McKee wants Usman Nurmagomedov next, calls Patricio Pitbull a ‘coward’ if he refuses trilogy fight


VIDEO STEW

UFC Comebacks of 2022.

Zhang’s 2022 resume.

Best UFC posters of 2022.

Bellator Vs. RIZIN In Focus.

Top 10 PFL fights in 2022.

Close enough.

Wonderboy’s top 10 2022 UFC knockouts.


LISTEN UP

Between the Links. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck and Jed Meshew grade the best and worst from UFC, Bellator, and more.

Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck remembers Stephan Bonnar, chats Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Art.

Nick.

Judo flow.

Jackie B.

Sure thing.

TAM.

Quite a performance.

Tenshin.

Court.

Satoshi.

Shameless Tyson.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Mateusz Rębecki (16-1) vs. Nick Fiore (6-0); UFC Vegas 67, Jan. 14


FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m down for Shevchenko vs. Zhang. Just not yet... Each division has enough intriguing contenders.

I love NYE for MMA and just for life overall. Happy 2023, everyone. Have a great and safe one, we’ll see you next year! Thanks for reading!


EXIT POLL

Poll

Who would win?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Zhang Weili
    (67 votes)
  • 83%
    Valentina Shevchenko
    (345 votes)
412 votes total Vote Now

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting