Weili Zhang
Magnum

China

Digs deep to retain UFC gold
StrawweightUFC
March 7, 2020
Zhang barely retained her UFC Women's Strawweight Championship on Saturday, defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) at UFC 248 in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
Let's just say Zhang's first title defense was a lot more work than her 42-second knockout win over Jessica Andrade last August where she won the belt. This was a back-and-forth war in which both women generated plenty of offense. Blessed with a significant advantage in the power department, Zhang literally rearranged Joanna's face with some of her strikes. Her cardio appeared to be slipping in Rounds 3 and 4 before she found her second wind in the final frame. While this was primarily a kickboxing match, Zhang was credited with eight takedown attempts. She landed just one of them and did nothing was her positional advantage. Zhang absorbed plenty of shots from Joanna -- many to her legs -- and ate them all without issue. Zhang's offense arsenal is evident but it was nice to see her dig deep and show she can win a fight when her opponent is pressuring her. The UFC might look into booking an immediate rematch between the two considering this was arguably the greatest fight in women's mixed martial arts history. Both women saw their stock soar following this performance but Zhang is the one who left T-Mobile arena with the gold. If nothing else, she showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that her win over Andrade was the furthest thing from a fluke.
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Favored over former strawweight queen
StrawweightUFC
March 2, 2020
Zhang is approximately a (-185) betting favorite for her first title defense against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
Zhang has stormed the UFC gates, winning three consecutive bouts before overwhelming Jessica Andrade in her native China to take home UFC gold and become the first Chinese champion under the UFC banner. She'll draw her toughest test to date in terms of skill and experience, however, as Jedrzejczyk has five successful title defense to her name as the original strawweight queen. Jedrzejczyk will also hold height and reach advantages of Zhang, though Zhang seems to have the edge in terms of raw power. We've seen Joanna get knocked out before in her first-round loss to Rosa Namajunas in November of 2017, so it's possible that if Zhang connects, it could be an early evening. Should this end up a five-round kickboxing match -- which is possible considering neither woman has shown much desire to grapple -- it will be very challenging for Zhang to outpoint a fighter as experienced in five-round affairs as Jedrzejczyk.
Set to defend title at 248
StrawweightUFC
December 2, 2019
Zhang is expected to defend her strawweight title against Joanna Jedrzejcyzk at UFC 248 on March 7, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Undefeated since her debut loss that came outside the UFC in 2013, Zhang's 42-second TKO victory over Jessica Andrade marked her third professional strawweight title, with her first two arriving in KLF and Top FC. With an 85 percent finish rate, Zhang attacks with a mixed offense, narrowly edging 10 knockouts over seven submission victories. She has two stoppages in four chances with the UFC, and her striking pace of 6.22 significant strikes landed per minutes is slightly better than Jedrzejczyk's mark of 6.18, albeit over a much smaller sample size of lesser fighters. She also profiles as a better wrestler, but it still wouldn't be a surprise to see her enter as a betting underdog against Jedrzejczyk, a former champion in the division with five title defenses to her name.
Clears up visa issue
StrawweightUFC
October 10, 2019
Zhang was able to get her United States visa cleared, Mike Bohn of USA Today reports.
ANALYSIS
Zhang was having issues obtaining a visa earlier in the week, but the issue has since been resolved. She's yet to schedule a fight following her last victory over Jessica Andrade via TKO at UFC Fight Night in Shenzhen, China.
Unable to obtain US visa
StrawweightUFC
October 7, 2019
Zhang has been unable to get a visa to the United States, Nolan King of MMAJunkie.com reports.
ANALYSIS
This isn't an immediate issue for Zhang, who has yet to schedule a fight after becoming the UFC Women's Strawweight Champion at the end of August, but it could become a problem down the road. Her situation will be worth monitoring moving forward.
UFC's newest mega star, champion
StrawweightUFC
August 31, 2019
Zhang became the new UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Saturday, defeating Jessica Andrade via TKO (strikes) at 0:42 of Round 1 at UFC Fight Night in Shenzhen, China.
ANALYSIS
It's not a stretch to say that this could go down as one of the biggest results in the history of the UFC. The company has been trying to get over in the Chinese market for years, and now the country has its very own champion. Casual fans may not know a ton about Zhang, but she's legit and she's fantastic. She's a talented mat wrestler, and as we saw Saturday, has some ridiculous power. Zhang used punches, elbows, knees, and anything else she had at her disposal to smash Andrade and earn the stoppage. After seeing what we saw, it's quite clear this result shouldn't be considered much of an upset. UFC President Dana White said after the fight that Zhang's first title defense will be in the United States. That's really the only option considering how few events the company holds in China, but you can bet the UFC will market the heck out of Zhang as a worldwide star. If Zhang can hold onto her belt for an extended period of time, this could go down as an industry-altering day. To make matters even better, Zhang will walk away with an extra $50,000 via a Performance of the Night bonus due to this outstanding result.