UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili is once again the champion but will not let the weight of the belt affect her.
Zhang Weili is in familiar territory as the UFC strawweight champion. She defeated Carla Esparza in New York City to be crowned the champion of the UFC 115 pounds division. This is not the first time Zhang has held the title, she was the champion back in 2019, but lost the title after her first defense. Zhang is now looking back at her past mistakes as well as looking toward a bright future as a champion, learning along the way.
Zhang was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani where she spoke about what could be next for her and why she believes she is in a better place now as a champion than she was before.
Zhang Weili is hoping for a home country return in her next fight
Zhang is fresh off of her big win in New York City. She faced the American, Esparza, but was the crowd favorite in the fight. This has not always been the case and now with five straight fights away from home, she is hoping that the UFC can return to China for a big PPV event. She wants to have her next title defense in her home country and it does not matter to her who it is against.
Zhang is ready to take on all challengers next including flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko if that is in the cards. The only opponent who she feels does not deserve that fight right away is Rose Namajunas, who has defeated Zhang twice and is currently on a loss. She would like to see Namajunas win one more before they fight for the third time.
Zhang Weili thinks the pressure of being champion got to Rose Namajunas
The champ, through a translator, spoke about how she herself felt pressure as the champ to hold on to the belt. She said she believes that Namajunas felt that same pressure and it affected her in her rematch with Esparza. She said she thought Namajunas wanted to hold onto the belt and have an easy fight which is impossible.
Zhang believes that although she has felt this pressure in the past it is not the case now. She is taking the pressure of being a champion and learning from it. She used the belt as a force to motivate her to keep getting better,