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Uncertain of victory, Zhang Weili feels a Valentina Shevchenko fight ‘is a must’

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

Zhang Weili never backs down from a challenge.

Once again Strawweight champion of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), it’s onto the future for Zhang and the current path is a bit unclear. No. 3-ranked contender, Amanda Lemos, seems to be the frontrunner for the next crack at gold, but the promotion has yet to indicate any sort of direction.

Zhang is about to head back to her home of China as she takes a small break to enjoy her recent victory before a hopeful return in the Summer of 2023. Weighing possible options, “Magnum” finds the prospect of a champion versus champion duel at Flyweight against the division’s titleholder, Valentina Shevchenko, rather enticing.

“Yes. It’s a must, for sure,” Zhang told MMA Fighting of a Shevchenko match up. “No question.

“I thought about this a couple of years back,” she continued. “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.”

Shevchenko and Zhang have fought together on the same cards twice in the past. In those appearances, Shevchenko defended her title twice and Zhang suffered a loss to Rose Namajunas before scoring a knockout over Joanna Jedrzejczyk (watch highlights).

Taila Santos gave Shevchenko a real run for her money at UFC 275 in June 2022 (watch highlights). Despite the tightly contested split decision win for the “Bullet,” Shevchenko is still considered one of the absolute best fighters on the planet today.

“Also, because 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. “My opponent adjusts myself. My opponent is still myself. It’s not the person I’m facing, but rather the person I am.”

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