This weekend, UFC 261: Usman vs. Masvidal 2 is bringing three title bouts to the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. Serving as the co-main event is a UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship fight, where Zhang “Magnum” Weili will be defending her belt against former champ “Thug” Rose Namajunas. The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, but in the meantime, keep reading to learn more about Weili.
Zhang Weili is a 31-year-old mixed martial artist from Handan, China. She began training at age 12 in Kung Fu and Chinese kickboxing after becoming fascinated with combat arts from watching action films. In her 20s, Zhang worked several different jobs after moving to Beijing before embarking on her long — and so far very successful — MMA career.
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It was in 2013 that Zhang made her professional debut in the China MMA League. She lost the fight, a bout that marks the only defeat on her otherwise flawless 21-1 record so far. She quickly made up for that loss, climbing through the ranks of the Kunlun Fight Chinese kickboxing league, ultimately winning the KLF Strawweight Championship in 2017 and successfully defending it thereafter.
In 2018, “Magnum” finally got her shot at the biggest MMA league in the world: The Ultimate Fighting Championship. At UFC 227, Zhang bested Danielle Taylor via unanimous decision, going on to defeat Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres in her subsequent matches. This earned the Chinese kickboxer a shot at the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship.
At UFC Fight Night 157 in August 2019, Zhang Weili faced defending champion Jessica Andrade (who had won the belt in her previous matchup against former champ Rose Namajunas), where her strike-heavy kickboxing style let her handily unseat the champion with a TKO upset just 42 seconds into the first round. This made Zhang the first Chinese champion in UFC history. In March of last year, she had her first successful title defense against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, although the win came down to a split decision.
At UFC 261: Usman vs. Masvidal 2, Zhang Weili will be facing former champion Rose Namajunas, who, after avenging her earlier defeat by Andrade, is gunning hard to get the women’s strawweight belt back. If you want to see what happens (and tune in for the other two title bouts on the main card), you’ll need to sign up for ESPN+ and buy the UFC 261 PPV before the show begins on Saturday night.
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