Zhang Weili reflects on fights with Rose Namajunas, feels ‘enlightened’ by experiences

PhotoCred: Drake Riggs

The rivalry between Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas has come to an end for the time being.

UFC 268 kicked off the month of November and featured two big title fight rematches. In the evening’s co-main event, China’s first UFC champion in Zhang looked to get redemption opposite her successor from their UFC 261 meeting in April.

“It really took a very, very long time,” Zhang told The Unicorn (h/t Instagram – @zhangweili_xiaopang) in response to when she was able to get over her initial defeat to Namajunas. “I think it was after I came to the US when I finally got over it – in the training camp when my mindset changed a great deal for real. After the first fight, when it ended that fast, the grief I felt inside was almost unbearable.

“Think about it, we went to a place that far and brought the whole team then the fight ended as soon as it started. It was agony. It was still painful after we got back. It felt then I could be alright at one moment, like, it is what it is. Then sometimes I’d think about it again and it still hurts, I still struggle to accept it.”

Zhang Weili (21-3) suffered her first career defeat in her very first MMA bout against Meng Bo in 2013. Losing a unanimous decision in her debut, Zhang’s second career defeat came 21 fights later in only 78 seconds.

The Zhang and Namajunas rematch wound up being the fight anticipated the first time around. Battling back and forth for five rounds, Namajunas once again came out on top but this time via split decision.

“It was after I came to the US that I finally adjusted [my mentality] and got over it,” Zhang said. “I gained a whole new understanding of the sport. That’s when I feel like my mindset and everything else changed for real. I find that if you don’t go through those failures, setbacks, and losses you will never be able to grow.

“After I finally experienced it then I think back on everything I’ve been through in the past it felt like I grew up all of a sudden. When you finally get it, you feel enlightened.”

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM