Zhang Weili believes she is on a collision course with Valentina Shevchenko. The Chinese fighter regained the strawweight title when she submitted Carla Esparza at UFC 281.
Having rediscovered her best form with back-to-back finishes, the 33-year-old has her eyes set on a super fight against the promotion’s current flyweight champion. Speaking on the MMA Hour she said the fight had been on her radar for years,
“Yeah. It’s a must, for sure, no question. I thought about this a couple of years back, eventually we would run into each other in the octagon because the weight divisions were so close. It will be a great performance, regardless of the outcome,” she said.
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Zhang is currently #3 in the women’s pound for pound rankings with Shevchenko just above her. Her victory in New York won her some new fans including Mark Zuckerberg who commentated on her Instagram that he hoped Shevchenko would be next.
Zhang says this match-up has been on her mind for a while,
“I thought about this a couple of years back. Eventually we will run into each other in the octagon because the weight divisions are so close. I don’t know for sure if I’ll take the belt away from her, but one thing I can guarantee is it’s going to be a banger if me and the champ get in the octagon. It will be a great performance, regardless of the outcome.”
— UFC (@ufc) November 13, 2022
Shevchenko has won nine fights in a row and is widely considered to be one of the greatest female fighters of all-time. Zhang is excited about the challenge this represents,
“She’s such a great martial artist, I’m willing to step into the octagon with her to learn from her, to share the female fighting spirit in there because she’s one of the best in the world,” Zhang said.
She recently talked about the influence which traditional Chinese martial arts were having on her. She sounded a bit like Bruce Lee when telling Ariel Helwani that,
“My opponent adjusts myself. My opponent is still myself. It’s not the person I’m facing, but rather the person I am.”