UFC strawweight champion Weili Zhang still hasn’t returned to her native China after her UFC 248 war with Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
The champion elected to stay put in Las Vegas for up to a month, not only to avoid potential exposure to the coronavirus, but to simplify the stringent United States Anti-Doping Agency tests she’s subject to as a UFC champ.
Zhang is enduring this period of lockdown with a few members of her team at a rented home in the city. Toward the beginning of this lockdown, she posted a video on her Chinese social media channels of the barren shelves at a local grocery store — the result of thousands of locals attempting to stock up for their own periods of isolation.
According to a report from South China Morning Post, fans in China responded to this video from Zhang by sending the UFC champ food, medicine, masks, hand sanitizer and more.
They even sent her a pot to cook rice in.
“I am very touched. In a foreign country, I can receive the care and help of Chinese friends,” Zhang said during a 90-minute live-stream on the Chinese video platform Douyin (translation via South China Morning Post). “We have never seen it before. We can’t buy rice. They sent us rice. I am afraid we don’t have a pot to do it — for the rice — they also sent the pot to us.
“I felt that in a foreign country, the Chinese were very united and everyone cheered together!”
Speaking on her official Weibo account, Zhang also sent a message of unity and encouragement to her fans.
“In the end we decided to stay in Las Vegas,” she said. “It is safest to stay still. So many people have achieved results with so much effort. It’s not easy for everyone. I hope the epidemic will pass quickly and we will protect ourselves. Let’s make it together.
“While we all wait for the world to heal, we can still stay active and healthy. Just get a little better and a little stronger each day,” she added. “Nothing new to me here. It feels the same to me as my entire training camp for the last battle. Make the best of your environment and be happy for each sunrise.”
At present, it’s not clear who Weili Zhang will fight next. That being said, a rematch with Jedrzejczyk is possible, while the winner of the upcoming rematch between Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade — provided it actually happens — will also be a frontrunner.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/24/2020.