Zhang Weili hopes to befriend Rose Namajunas after UFC 261 clash

UFC 261-Zhang-Weili
PhotoCred: South China Morning Post / UFC

At UFC 261 on April 24, Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas will be anything but friendly with one another – the current champ hopes that won’t be the case in the aftermath.

Coming into the co-main event of the first event to have full crowds back in the UFC, Zhang expects a great battle with her challenger. From there, they can go on to be cordial.

“From an exchange of blows, friendship grows,” Zhang said via South China Morning Post. “So I hope maybe we will become friends after this fight.

“It’s because Rose is a humble and very great fighter. She beat Joanna [Jedrzejczyk] twice and won against [Jessica] Andrade. She is a competitor with very good ability and I have always hoped I can fight with her. I feel a connection to those who fight martial arts, and we build friendships through the martial arts. We learn from each other and exchange our views when we fight together.”

For the reigning champion in Zhang, this will be her first fight back in action after a year away from the Octagon. In her last appearance, “Magnum” made a successful first defense of her strawweight title in what was the consensus best fight of 2020 vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Like China’s Zhang, Namajunas also had just a single fight in 2020. A former titleholder herself, Namajunas’ lone bout saw her get redemption against Jessica Andrade – the fighter who took the title from her via devastating slam the year prior.

Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas are two of the UFC strawweight division’s five champions in history. For the current champ, she’s been watching “Thug” for a good while now.

“I came to know about Rose in the early days,” Zhang said. “I have been paying attention to her during her fights. Her fist work is very fast. Her punches are also very accurate. We definitely have had specific training for that. I hope everyone can watch the live broadcast to see how I target her.”

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