Weili Zhang
Magnum

China

Set to defend title at 248
StrawweightUFC
December 2, 2019
Zhang is expected to defend her strawweight title against Joanna Jedrzejcyzk at UFC 248 on March 17, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Undefeated since her debut loss that came outside the UFC in 2013, Zhang's 42-second TKO victory over Jessica Andrade marked her third professional strawweight title, with her first two arriving in KLF and Top FC. With an 85 percent finish rate, Zhang attacks with a mixed offense, narrowly edging 10 knockouts over seven submission victories. She has two stoppages in four chances with the UFC, and her striking pace of 6.22 significant strikes landed per minutes is slightly better than Jedrzejczyk's mark of 6.18, albeit over a much smaller sample size of lesser fighters. She also profiles as a better wrestler, but it still wouldn't be a surprise to see her enter as a betting underdog against Jedrzejczyk, a former champion in the division with five title defenses to her name.
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Clears up visa issue
StrawweightUFC
October 10, 2019
Zhang was able to get her United States visa cleared, Mike Bohn of USA Today reports.
ANALYSIS
Zhang was having issues obtaining a visa earlier in the week, but the issue has since been resolved. She's yet to schedule a fight following her last victory over Jessica Andrade via TKO at UFC Fight Night in Shenzhen, China.
Unable to obtain US visa
StrawweightUFC
October 7, 2019
Zhang has been unable to get a visa to the United States, Nolan King of MMAJunkie.com reports.
ANALYSIS
This isn't an immediate issue for Zhang, who has yet to schedule a fight after becoming the UFC Women's Strawweight Champion at the end of August, but it could become a problem down the road. Her situation will be worth monitoring moving forward.
UFC's newest mega star, champion
StrawweightUFC
August 31, 2019
Zhang became the new UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Saturday, defeating Jessica Andrade via TKO (strikes) at 0:42 of Round 1 at UFC Fight Night in Shenzhen, China.
ANALYSIS
It's not a stretch to say that this could go down as one of the biggest results in the history of the UFC. The company has been trying to get over in the Chinese market for years, and now the country has its very own champion. Casual fans may not know a ton about Zhang, but she's legit and she's fantastic. She's a talented mat wrestler, and as we saw Saturday, has some ridiculous power. Zhang used punches, elbows, knees, and anything else she had at her disposal to smash Andrade and earn the stoppage. After seeing what we saw, it's quite clear this result shouldn't be considered much of an upset. UFC President Dana White said after the fight that Zhang's first title defense will be in the United States. That's really the only option considering how few events the company holds in China, but you can bet the UFC will market the heck out of Zhang as a worldwide star. If Zhang can hold onto her belt for an extended period of time, this could go down as an industry-altering day. To make matters even better, Zhang will walk away with an extra $50,000 via a Performance of the Night bonus due to this outstanding result.
Getting shot at strawweight title
StrawweightUFC
June 11, 2019
Zhang will take on UFC Strawweight Champion Jessica Andrade in the main event of UFC Shenzen on Aug. 31, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
Zhang has impressed in her first trio of UFC fights, taking home convincing victories to persuade matchmakers that she's earned a shot at the belt. She has yet to be taken down during her time with the promotion, and lands over three signficant strikes per minute more than she absorbs, resulting in an official striking differential of 3.32. Zhang will have the crowd behind her in her native China, in addition to height and reach advantages. Even with those factors in her favor, Andrade is by far the toughest opponent Zhang has seen today, and it could even be argued that this is too much, too soon for the No. 6-ranked contender. Through 15 UFC fights across multiple weight classes, Andrade has been able to keep up tremendous offensive volume, landing 6.55 significant strikes per minute. She also manages 3.22 takedowns per 15 minutes, which will represent a major challenge to Zhang's perfect takedown defense. While this fight will do wonders for the growth of the sport in China, look for Andrade to enter as a relatively heavy betting favorite.
Passes biggest test of career at UFC 235
StrawweightUFC
March 2, 2019
Zhang defeated Tecia Torres via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) at UFC 235 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
Torres isn't a star, but this was by far the most difficult test of Zhang's career and she passed it with flying colors. Zhang limited Torres's time and space en route to a 137-21 edge in total strikes landed. Zhang is remarkably calm and composed inside the octagon for a woman with little experience against top competition. Zhang has legitimate power and a clue on the mat. Her ceiling is very high. Zhang has won 19 fights in a row since dropping her professional debut in November 2013.