Zhang Weili believes fans were more interested in her rematching Rose Namajunas than Carla Esparza

By Drake Riggs - October 19, 2021

Despite the strawweight division being loaded with contenders, Zhang Weili will get an instant rematch with new champion Rose Namajunas.


First colliding with Namajunas at UFC 261 in April, Zhang (21-2) attempted to defend her 115-pound UFC crown for just the second time – her first coming over the legendary Joanna Jedrzejczyk in March 2020. Unfortunately for China’s first promotional titleholder, “Magnum” fell to a quick head kick knockout in only 78 seconds.

Meanwhile, in the weight class, the UFC’s first champion at strawweight, Carla Esparza, put together her greatest streak since she won her way to inaugural gold. A May TKO stoppage that halted Yan Xiaonan’s six-fight streak of momentum only added to Esparza’s as she’s won five straight. Fans and fighters alike imagined it was more than enough for “Cookie Monster” to get the fight with Namajunas who she defeated to earn the title in 2013.

“I think because more fans want me and Rose again,” Zhang Weili answered when asked by The Schmo why she got the title shot over Esparza.

At UFC 268 on Nov. 6 in New York City, Zhang and Namajunas will meet again in the evening’s co-main event.

The champion turned challenger in the Handan, Hebei native has gone out of her comfort zone in preparation for the rematch. Taking her talents from China to Scottdale, Arizona in the U.S., Zhang has sought out the help of the team at Fight Ready where she’s trained alongside coach Eric Albaraccin, Eddie Cha, and former UFC flyweight and bantamweight titleholder, Henry Cejudo.

“I feel very good and ready,” Zhang Weili said. “I’m so happy, I think I’m getting better and better every day. Fight Ready has Henry Cejudo, Eddie Cha, coach Eric. I think it’s very special here.

“I think our technique together [is good], I’m wrestling, [working on] BJJ, my striking is getting better than before.”

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM


Carla Esparza Rose Namajunas UFC Weili Zhang