UFC strawweight champion Weili Zhang recently explained how the Coronavirus crisis negatively impacted her performance at UFC 248.
Zhang made the first defense of her strawweight title in the co-main event of the UFC 248 card, taking on former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
In the weeks leading up to their eagerly anticipated matchup, the coronavirus spread across Zhang’s home country of China. Due to tightening travel restrictions, she was forced to move her camp to Thailand.
The Chinese champ’s team set up camp for a week and began training before news of the virus spreading threatened their new location. Once again, the strawweight champion had to pack up her belongings and travel to Abu Dhabi.
From there, she prepared for her upcoming bout before making the long journey to Las Vegas.
Zhang and Jedrzejczyk’s action-packed showdown proved to be one of the best bouts in MMA history. After a 25-minute battle, Zhang claimed the victory by split decision.
Despite sealing the win and delivering a show-stopping performance, Zhang believes she would have performed better without the nonstop travelling and worry surrounding the Coronavirus.
During an episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA show, Zhang spoke through her translator:
“I didn’t put my best performance on because I haven’t really acclimatized at all here in Vegas,” Zhang. “I have been travelling to like three, four different places for this fight.
“I had a tough time acclimatizing to the time zone. I have only like three to five hours of sleeping. Normally I sleep like nine to ten hours in Beijing, but here in Vegas I couldn’t get a nice sleep,” Zhang continued. “So I didn’t give the best of me, I didn’t get the best performance. That’s why I don’t want to look at the fight yet. I only slept six hours total for the two days before the fight. Six hours total in two days.”
If UFC 248 was not her best work, it’s exciting to think what Weili Zhang is capable of when at full throttle.
Now, she can hopefully take some much-needed rest and enjoy her well deserved $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/10/2020.