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.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
グラップリングと柔道の練習— Kana Watanabe×渡辺華奈 (@kanawatanabe821) December 30, 2022
Why not, let’s do it for the fans https://t.co/3V58wJfR7C— Shavkat “Nomad” Rakhmonov (@Rakhmonov1994) December 30, 2022
Quite a performance.
Mateusz Rębecki (16-1) vs. Nick Fiore (6-0); UFC Vegas 67, Jan. 14
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!
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