Weili Zhang has given a far reaching interview with CCTV in China. The former UFC strawweight champion is finally out of quarantine and spoke openly about her losses to Rose Namajunas.

She also knows exactly what she wants to do next. Zhang is hoping to fight Carla Esparza in the new year,

“I want to fight Carla but now we have to see if the UFC will arrange it because she’s getting married in May and she wants to fight before that . So we have to see about the timing.”

Zhang had been planning to return to the octagon in June,

“We originally planned to fight in June next year. I’m going yo the US to train after Chinese New Year, Next year I may spend more time outside of my country.”

Weili Zhang 6

Online criticism

It sounds like Zhang received a lot of criticism in China for being unable to come to terms with the first loss to Namajunas. She thinks people don’t understand exactly what she was going through,

“I think they have never experienced what I have been through so I don’t want to argue with them. If they have been through what I’ve been though they’ll behave worse than me, they’ll find it harder t o accept than I did, they’ll have stronger reactions than mine.”

It doesn’t sound like she has had much of a break from training,

“While in quarantine I took online classes in the morning, trained some basic stuff with coaches in the US. First day out of quarantine we got out at 10pm and started training the next day.”

Henry Cejudo training with Weili Zhang

No regrets

Despite losing both her fights in 2021 and giving up the strawweight title in the process Zhang has no regrets,

“This whole year I think everything is okay I don’t have any regrets. The losses and whatever. This year I gained so much regardless.”

She trained for the rematch at Fight Ready in Arizona and the fight was very different even if the result was the same. Having been knocked out at UFC 261 she went the distance at UFC 268 and was very unfortunate to lose by way of split decision.

Zhang openly discussed her approach to the rematch,

“We had some strategies prepared. I need to move not just stand there because she would cut angles and attack. I have to move, kick and do damage to the front leg because she kept it fixed when throwing.”

Surprisingly she has no issues with the decision and feels the judges got it right,

“I think yes I agree with it because I did have cardio issues in the last round. It came down to the last round to determine the winner. It was very important.”

Henry Cejudo training with Weili Zhang 2

Happy and free

Interestingly she thinks a third fight with Namajunas is inevitable and believes it will happen in 2022. For the time being though Zhang is just happy to be out of quarantine,

“I feel really happy and free. Air is so fresh, food is delicious.”

She is currently training at the UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai. Zhang plans to spend Chinese New Year with her family but her future plans are very simple,

“This year learn from experience, next year keep working hard.”