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Daniel Cormier: ‘Zhang Weili is legit the greatest athlete I think I’ve ever seen’

UFC 275 Media Day Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Hall of Famer, Daniel Cormier, has high praise for his fellow former champion, Zhang Weili.

This weekend (Sat., June 11, 2022) at UFC 275 in Kallang, Singapore, fans will be treated to a rematch of one of the greatest fights of all time when Zhang meets old foe, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The match up sees Strawweight royalty colliding two years after their epic first encounter at UFC 248 in March 2020. Battling mightily for five straight rounds with no slowing down, Zhang successfully picked up her lone title defense as champion, earning a split decision nod (watch full fight).

LIVE! Watch UFC 276 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

BLOCKBUSTER CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLEHEADER! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) International Fight Week returns to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., July 2, 2022, capped by a stacked card headlined by a blockbuster championship double header. In UFC 276’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, reigning Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, defends his crown against No. 2-ranked contender, Jared Cannonier. In the co-main event, Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, has his sights set on successfully defending his title once again against No. 1-seeded contender, Max Holloway, for the third (and likely final) time.

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Like every sane mixed martial arts (MMA) fan around the globe, Cormier is also excited for part two. However, the former two-division titlist can’t see the sequel outshining the original.

“I think it’s gonna be a good fight,” Cormier told MMA Fighting. “I think we’re gonna see a lot of skills. I don’t think that we’re gonna see that type of aggression, that type of head-on collision that we saw in the first fight. I think for Joanna to win, she’s got to be smarter. I think that in the time away she has recognized that and understands that even though the boogeywoman is a fun character, at times, you can’t fight like the boogeywoman. You gotta be a little bit more sharp in your approach. Especially when you’re fighting — honestly, Zhang Weili is legit the greatest athlete I think I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

While Zhang has remained active with two consecutive bouts against Rose Namajunas in 2021, Poland’s Jedrzejczyk hasn’t fought since UFC 248 when the two performed in 2020’s “Fight of the Year.

The story for many observers breaking down the rematch highlight inactivity vs. results. For Zhang, she suffered two losses despite being more active than Jedrzejczyk. In the first fight with Namajunas, Zhang was dealt a quick knockout loss (watch it) before the closely-contested rematch saw China’s finest on the wrong side of the split decision.

To overcome the still-dangerous “Magnum,” Cormier believes Jedrzejczyk will need to try and channel some of her more clinical displays, notably seen during her title reign from 2015 to 2017.

“She’s so fast, she’s like a ball of muscle,” Cormier said of Zhang. “She’s just tremendous. I mean, we’ve seen her do things that — if you put a basketball in Zhang Weili’s hands, I would imagine she could shoot it. Baseball? She’s probably pretty damn good. You put her on the track and field team, she’s probably pretty damn good. So, she’s about as athletic as anyone we’ve ever seen. To beat someone like that, you’ve got to be smart, and I think Joanna’s gonna do that and fight maybe a little bit slower.”


Who wins this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Zhang Weili
    (448 votes)
  • 40%
    Joanna Jedrzejczyk
    (300 votes)
748 votes total Vote Now

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 275 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

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