Zhang Weili will likely next be getting another shot to become the third two-time women’s champion in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history.
UFC 274 played host to an unfortunately abysmal Strawweight title rematch between former champion, Rose Namajunas, and the inaugural champion, Carla Esparza (watch highlights). “Cookie Monster” came out victorious once more, reopening the window of opportunity for the rest of the contenders waiting in the wings.
The following month (June 2022) at UFC 275, UFC President, Dana White, made it clear that the winner of another rematch pitting Zhang versus Joanna Jedrzejczyk would decide the new No. 1 contender. As of right now, that still appears to be the plan and Zhang made good on the sequel to an instant classic, knocking out Jedrzejczyk in the second round with a spinning back fist (watch highlights).
Having fought both women twice with mixed results, the aforementioned Namajunas will be watching intently and has a good gauge on how things should play out.
“My feelings are that Weili will really not have much problems in that fight,” Namajunas told MMA Fighting. “Carla is very interesting because she’s very unassuming and things like that. Obviously, I think our fight was kind of an anomaly, the last one. Because we both had some concerns about not messing up our faces and getting bloody and stuff like that ... but I don’t know if she’ll necessarily have that concern going into a fight with Weili.
“I do feel like Weili’s just on a different level skill-wise and all that stuff,” she concluded. “As long as she doesn’t get cocky or anything like that, I think she should become the new champion.”
As for “Thug’s” immediate future, she plans on taking some grappling matches before getting back into the Octagon sometime once the summer is over. Upon her return, a move to the Flyweight division is being considered.